NEWS

Pharmacists act over unpaid bills

Pharmacists in Athens will today stop supplying self-employed professionals, bank employees and workers at the Public Power Corporation (PPC) with medicines that are paid for by their insurance funds as part of an attempt to claim almost 130 million euros that pharmacies are owed in unpaid bills for drugs. The Association of Attica Pharmacies said yesterday that it is owed almost 20 million euros by the Insurance Organization for the Self-Employed (OAEE) and nearly 6 million euros by the social security funds of various banks, excluding National Bank and the Bank of Greece. The PPC fund owes just under 4 million euros, according to the pharmacists. Pharmacies usually supply the medicines to patients at little or no cost and then claim the money from the insurance funds. They said that they would also stop providing medicines in this manner to public servants as of May 1, demanding the money up front from the customer instead. According to Attica pharmacists, the Civil Servants’ Fund (OPAD), which subsidizes medicines for public sector workers, is the biggest offender, as it owes some 100 million euros in unpaid bills. The action by the pharmacists will only add to the problems faced by Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, who met with state hospital doctors yesterday to discuss the payment of their overtime wages for January and February, worth in excess of 11 million euros. In a bid to slash waste at public hospitals, the minister yesterday instructed them that, as of April 14, they should not keep more than 20 days’ worth of stock in any medicine. She said that hospitals outside of big cities could maintain a 30-day stock.