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Society

SYRIZA Set to Strip Greek Pharmacies of Long Monopoly

January 24, 2018

ATHENS – Greek pharmacists who have long enjoyed a monopoly, including keeping supermarkets from selling over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, will see their profession opened up to competition and non-pharmacists being able to operate the stores.

Pharmacies are one of the so-called “closed shops,” such as lawyers, engineers and other professionals who enjoy guaranteed profit margins and limited competition as well as, until recently, mostly set hours for pharmacies.

Under pressure from the country’s international creditors, the change is under the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition after previous governments didn’t buckle to the demands to open the professions as part of austerity measures.

The change was paved through a revised Presidential decree on Jan. 23 which was submitted for review to the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, which has jurisdiction and said a ministerial decision wasn’t enough.

People who aren’t pharmacists now will be allowed to open one as long as a licensed pharmacist is on duty, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

The maximum number of licenses for specific pharmacies is eight – in 2018 – and rising to 10 after 2020. The number of pharmacy licenses issued to a single person depends on a host of conditions and provisions. Licenses can also be given to European Union citizens who aren’t Greek although it wasn’t said if this means that major pharmaceutical chains will now be allowed to operate in Greece.

Until recently, Greek pharmacies closed in the early afternoon and were only open late afternoons and early evenings three times a week and are closed on Saturdays and Sundays although there is alway an on-duty pharmacy open to provide 24 hour coverage on a rotating basis.

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