The Troika will be monitoring prices of non-prescription drugs in Greece for a period of three months in order to decide whether they will be sold exclusively at pharmacies or at other stores as well.
Greece’s Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, answering a question by the Independent Greeks MP Vassilis Kapernaros on Thursday, said the health ministry had been engaged in “tough negotiations” with Greece’s foreign lenders, and claimed that widening the retail distribution of non-prescription drugs is not advisable for Greece, which already has the world’s highest rate of pharmacies per resident.
The coalition Greek government proposed to give pharmacists a three-month deadline by which to prove that competition rules are not violated and that no monopolistic methods are used to determine non-prescription drug prices.
Georgiadis stated that if proved that a free market were actually to operate among pharmacists, the debate on non-prescription drugs and supermarkets will end. He added that if the government finds that no discounts have been made in any Greek pharmacy during these three months, the whole debate will start anew. The Health Minister pointed out that “having a cartel is illegal and morally reprehensible.”
Kapernaros claimed drug stores will close down if non-prescription drugs are sold beyond pharmacies, concluding that the state arrears to pharmacists amount to 280 million euros.
The proposed retail sale of non-prescription drugs was one of the main reasons behind Greek pharmacists‘ strikes in March, protesting against the liberalization of their sector.