Greek pharmacists say they will take their case to the European Court of Justice if they need to in order to prevent the government from making it easier for entrepreneurs to open pharmacies.
One of the liberalization policies adopted by the government as part of its bailout commitments is that people who are not qualified pharmacists will be able to open stores.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Panhellenic Pharmacists’ Association yesterday and it was decided that its members would mount a campaign to block this measure from being implemented. The deregulation of the sector would also allow pharmacies to operate within supermarkets.
The pharmacists argue that they have legal precedent on their side as the European Court of Justice disagreed with the European Commission in 2009, when it brought infringement proceedings against Italy.
The Commission was seeking a declaration that Italian law, which allowed only pharmacists to own and operate private pharmacies, was in breach of Article 43 EC on the freedom of establishment and of Article 56 EC on the free movement of capital.
The pharmacists also argued that the possibility of chain stores opening up in Greece would not necessarily benefit local consumers as they often lead to cartel pricing and specific products being pushed.