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Politics

Tsipras Meets Pharmacists Union, Wants Total Ban on Drugs Exports

ATHENS – The New Democracy government’s plan to deal with an acute shortage of some critical drugs doesn’t go far enough and should include a total ban on their being exported, major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said.

“This very serious problem should be addressed immediately with checks in the market and at the pharmaceutical wholesalers and the ban of parallel exports in order to ensure the adequacy and the citizens’ access to medicine,” he said, reported the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.

That came after me with the Pharmacists Association of Athens, noting that, “We are worried because we are again in front of a resurgence of the health crisis with the outbreak of viruses and of COVID-19,” that’s ongoing.

He chastised the government for what he was tolerating pharmacists selling drugs to other countries for profit to get around the low prices they get because of regulations setting caps.

The President of the pharmacists association Konstantinos Lourantos said that “I have never experienced (shortages) like that in the 44 years that I have been in the profession,” the report said.

He said over a year ago the pharmacists had warned the government of the shortages but claimed that the Health Ministry ignored it and he complained about a lack of drug market controls that led to more exports.

A shortage of drugs in pharmacies across Greece, blamed largely on their being sold to other countries for profit, is being dealt with by ramping up production by Greek companies and with generic supplies.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris said earlier that the problem was because of supply chain issues and reduced exports from Asia along with more use of available drugs to deal with seasonal viruses during the waning pandemic.

He also said that while there’s enough supplies for now, and that there aren’t shortages of critical drugs at public hospitals, that the production of generic drugs in Greek factories would be increased, said Reuters news agency.

He also said there would be stepped-up controls at pharmacy stores and big drug warehouses would take place to check if they have the reserves required under Greek law during a temporary ban on their sale to other countries.

“There is a shortage in certain branded drugs containing paracetamol, antibiotics and respiratory devices … particularly for children,” Plevris told reporters, adding that generics are filling the gap for now.

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