Pharmacists to continue action

Pharmacists who object to the government’s plans to open up their sector to competition decided over the weekend to resume their action with another three-day strike starting Wednesday while insisting that a handful of duty pharmacies that would remain open on the protest days would cover the needs of citizens with prescriptions. «Those who have prescriptions will be able to get their medicines as usual – on Monday and Tuesday from all pharmacies and on the other days from duty pharmacies,» said Theodoros Ampatzoglou, president of the Panhellenic Association of Pharmacists. In an emergency summit on Saturday attended by representatives of pharmacists’ associations from across the country, it was decided that protest action would continue in the coming weeks if the government does not make concessions. Unionists are pressing for Health Minister Andreas Loverdos to make good on a deal they reached with him last month but which the government’s commitments to its international creditors prevented from materializing. The association representing pharmacists in Piraeus is adopting a tougher stance already, launching a series of 48-hour strikes from today, and curbing the practice of giving medicines on credit. Meanwhile Loverdos was slammed by pharmacists for issuing a warning on Friday that dispensaries at state hospitals would start giving out medicines to citizens with prescriptions if strike action continues. In comments published in To Vima newspaper on Saturday, Ampatzoglou was strongly critical of Loverdos. «Instead of reproaching us for blackmail and calling on us to fulfill our responsibilities, we invite him to tackle the problem that he himself created and provide a solution that respects European law as well as the role and mission of the Greek pharmacist.»