ATHENS – Greek pharmacists who want to keep their monopoly said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, going back on promises to protect them, is moving toward reforms that will allow over-the-counter drugs to be sold in supermarkets and chains and foreign businesses.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA leader has reneged on virtually all his anti-austerity vows and now is set to push changes in closed professions he had resisted to satisfy international creditors, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
The head of the greater Athens area (Attica prefecture) pharmacies’ association, Andreas Lourantos, told SKAI TV that Tsipras broke his pledge to them and that the Premier had told him he would not allow companies or non-pharmacists to own drugstores, which is now required by law.
“Not one (chance) in a million,” was the phrase he claimed Tsipras used, similar to other language the Premier has used before reneging as well on issues such as pension cuts, the sale of state assets, taxes on low-and-middle-income families and saying he would not let banks foreclose on homes.
Most associations of pharmacy owners and pharmacists – all state licensed professionals – want to keep out super markets and other multinational retailers from selling prescribed medicines in the country.
Lourantos, among others, said the liberalization and letting pharmacies face competition, common in most other countries, would turn Greece into an East European country.
The government is re-submitting a bill that opens up the sector to entrepreneurs that are not pharmacists, and possibly retailers.
The only difference in the current amendment – tacked on as a rider to an unrelated justice ministry draft bill – is a condition that a presidential decree must be issued instead of a joint ministerial decision.
Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, had earlier tossed out a joint ministerial decision barring anyone but licensed pharmacists from opening pharmacies.