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Pharmacies on 24h strike, opposing sale of non-prescription drugs at super-markets

Greece’s pharmacists will launch a 24-hour warning strike tomorrow Wednesday, June 10th 2015, in order to protest the government plans to allow sales of non-prescription medicine at the super-markets.

Selling non-prescription medicines at the super-markets was one of the Troika measures adopted by the Greek government in 2012 in order to boost competitiveness. In fact it was one of the OECD tools to increase competitiveness in the debt-ridden country.

However, according to a statement issued by the Greek Pharmacists Association, the measure will alo lift the price cap of non-prescription medicine.

The GPhA warns of the dangers for the health of the patients and that the measure will not help the Greek insured.

The Association sharply criticizes the SYRIZA-Independent Greek coalition government saying that

“By lifting the price cap for the non-prescription medicines and allowing their distribution through other channels, the current government not only rewards the actions of the previous government but it also strengthens the profit of the industry at the expense of the health of the Greek people and it forgets its pre-elections commitments.”

Greek pharmacists have been always opposing any “structural reforms” like decreasing their profit, increasing their working hours or allowing the establishment of pharmacy chains. Pharmacies used to operate according to shops working hours and they were closed also Saturday and Sunday.

However, when the previous government adopted the changes, one after the other pharmacies started to operate also Monday and Wednesday afternoon, as well as on Saturday, even though half-day.

Getting a medicine became much easier as people did not have to cover anymore several kilometers in a radius of 5 to 10 km in order to find a pharmacy on duty.

PS I have no idea how competitiveness will be increased if coughing syrup or vitamins will be sold at the super market. Oh wait! They will have 5% -29% discounts  or 1+1 offers like in soaps and shampoos. Or Not. Greek supermarkets are not directly a ‘price paradise” for consumers…

 

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33 comments

  1. This is the only measure that could be acceptable among the Troika’s willings! In Italy we have the same problems with ours medicines sellers’ lobbyies. But is this really capable to boost competitivity in Greece? Be serious, please!

  2. There are way too many pharmacies in Greece anyway! I count at least 5 in a radius in 200 meters in Kifisia! Are they joking?

    Let them strike all they want, they won’t get what they want. About time Greece joined the 21st century so I can buy my paracetamol in the supermarket and not get ripped off!

  3. Greek supermarkets are generally expensive due to Greek monopolies and commissions anywhere. I personally go shopping in Lidl, much better prices. I am surprised more Greeks don’t shop there. Maybe they are not as poor as they claim to be, because if I was short of cash, I would never walk in AB or Sklavenitis!

  4. I did not realize the Greek economy was so anti-competitive, that selling non-prescription medicines was allowed by a monopoly. Mind boggling. Are barbers only ones allowed to cut hair?

  5. keeptalkinggreece

    your can buy your paracetamol at the kiosk already. and it’s more expensive due to ‘extra service’ to you.

  6. keeptalkinggreece

    ever consider that Lidl can be so far away from your Kifissia home that transport cost equates the prices with the other supermarkets?

  7. keeptalkinggreece

    no. also secretaries, IT personnel and CEOs cut hair to kids, husbands and elderly when at home. and Oh! that’s black economy.

  8. Nope. It costs me 1 euro in petrol to get to Melissia. I save 1 euro by only buying 2 litres of milk! There are many lidls now in Athens. I reckon I save between 20-30% of my shopping costs by exclusively going to Lidl.

  9. It is urgent that Greek farmacies take a look across the border, no surprise progress is stopped in its track if these “closed professions” time and again get what they want.
    As if these non-prescription medication is a lifesaver. Please grow up Greece, and we will support you all the way!

  10. It’s not a monopoly: it’s a sector. The reason is that the markup on prescription drugs, and their volume of sales, is insufficient to afford a decent living for the excessive number of pharmacies in Greece.

    And the Troika’s solution? To allow more entrants into the retail pharmacy sector, at a time of depression, such that incomes are cut even further. Their logic? Why, none of course! It’s just right wing neoliberal ideology that everything should be in unregulated markets.

    By the way, perhaps you didn’t notice that in every sector where far right politicians have deregulated across Europe and North America, the principal result is chaos (such as banks) and a lot of people made money out of nothing. Strangely, most of these seem to be politicians and their friends.

    Corruption? No,no — there is corruption only in Greece. None at all in the USA, Germany, UK, etc. It’s just coincidence that most of their populations are struggling to make ends meet while the political class and business class have become multimillionaires or billionaires.

  11. cyril mcdonnell

    we had the same situation in ireland until the market was liberised if you look at the pharmacies they are all the best looking premises no shortage of money there!!

  12. keeptalkinggreece

    was it you promoting the Lidl also some 2-3 years ago?

  13. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    The next Lidl that pays taxes is far away in Luxembourg

  14. But the real question is who gets screwed by the Lidls of this world to be able to sell at those discount prices? Many moons ago I walked into a then “Quinsworth” supermarket in Tralee, Co kerry Ireland to find green beans on the shelf, “product of Ethiopia”. This was 1985. Cheap green beans from Ethiopia for sale in Ireland while Bob Geldof was singing about feeding the world and organizing food drops in a famine ravished Ethiopia…
    Not much has changed. Before singing the praises of these vultures, find out who pays for your “cheap” shopping. Here’s a little summary of how “cheap” your food in Lidl and Co is http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/africa-for-sale-1657

  15. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Across the border is risky for the medicine to get wet.

  16. And Greek companies pay taxes?? HAHAHAH nice one!

  17. Pharmacies in Greece made enough money over the years by being a closed profession. I know market liberalization is scary for communists like you Xenos, but the party days are over. Modern Greece will come whether you like it or not.

  18. I work in Logistics so I know why lidl is cheaper. First of all, they own the milk producing factory in Greece so they pay no comissions or fees. Then they own the trucks transporting the goods, again they pay no comissions or fees for the stupid closed trucking profession. Then they own the stores as well, so they control the whole supply chain. As a result, life is much cheaper. And they are not as greedy as Mr Vgenopoulos of Delta Vivartia (Marfin Investment Group Owned) who raised the price of Delta milk by 30%, claiming higher production costs. Lidl, on the other hand, only raised the price of milk by 10% over the same period of time.

    I hope Greeks get more educated over time and can then fight the big boys and make Greece a modern, competitive, prosperous economy. Greece is a beautiful country, but the people need help to succeed.

  19. Excellent comment, eph. I too have often wondered how their discounted pricing worked — because it is not through volume of sales. Exploitation of suppliers through monopsony is normal with all supermarket chains, so Lidl (logically) must be engaging in super-exploitation of its suppliers.

    Not that this will worry the Germans, who are more concerned with their pockets than with their souls.

  20. keeptalkinggreece

    oh yes, you ‘re the old Lidl promoting guy.

  21. keeptalkinggreece

    another interesting exmaple is Amazon in GER where they exploited Polish workers

  22. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    In modern Greece all internal combustion engines will be banned and people who buy medicine in supermarkets are crazy: Don’t drink water, octopus fuck in it!

  23. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Lidl wurscht and meat mixed up with the blood, sweat and tears of Polish and Romanian slaves in German slaughterhouses

  24. I don’t think in this day and age there is any justification in the public’s interest to maintain this restrictive practice.
    The pharmacies have been a strong political lobby for their self interests in the past and on this particular issue I don’t believe they have much public support.
    Having to resort to strike actions confirms to me that their rationale for continuing with this restrictive practice is pretty thin.

  25. keeptalkinggreece

    sure not much public support. on the other hand, this just reminds me that one can buy medicine at the pharmacy next door and pay later when salary or pension come. this will be impossible at the super market.

  26. You are a fool. And I am not a communist, you ignoramus. Market liberalisation is something that can be done, carefully, with a specific planned intent. If the idea is to free up labour and shops currently occupied by pharmacies, what will replace these retails outlets and employment. Giant supermarkets, with terrible working conditions and crap pay? Located outside city centres, so that those without cars cannot get to them? Amassing profits for the multinationals that own them, and fooling Joe Average into thinking that he has a good deal because his (rotting) eggs now cost 80 cents a box instead of one euro?

    You are a sheep, with no capacity for reason. Protected markets can be justified: but they do have to be justified, I agree. There are no obvious structural benefits for the greek economy in creating more unemployment in a depression. And the past profitability of pharmacies, which was not so high, is not relevant after 5 years of economic collapse. Try to use your brain.

  27. Ermm, my recollection is that US companies in Europe don’t pay much in the way of taxes. My recollection is that the current malakas President of the Commission set up illegal scams to attract fictional multinational headquarters to Luxembourg, with very low VAT, so that Luxembourg (with its money laundering banking sector as well) siphoned off taxes from the rest of the EU.

    You see, your claims just don’t hold water. There is mass corruption everywhere, and you seem to think that only Greece has a problem. Arguably, Greece has less of a problem with corruption than much of northern Europe: it has a large black economy- much enlarged by the stupidity of the Troika — which involves a lot of society. As opposed to corruption elsewhere, which is confined to bankers, multinationals and politicians.

  28. I am living in a country where almost everything has to come from supermarkets, and I can tell you that it is Hell. The prices are not low (apart from fresh fish, strangely); the effort of going half way around the town to get a loaf of bread (the sole UK bakery chain no longer sells proper bread: they sell greasy pasties and white bread sandwiches with garbage inside); the pharmacy prices for products I used to buy in Athens are roughly three times the price in Greece.

    Guys: don’t swallow the neoliberal propaganda. Supermarkets are for superprofits for their rich owners: they are not for the benefit of society. Greece has too many pharmacies, but the solution is not to open more as the Troika has done.

  29. Yes but I don’t think the pharmacies will be banned from selling non-prescription drugs.
    This measure will just open up competition and convenience. I will still buy non prescription drugs at a Pharmacy if I’m in there getting prescribed medicine or need simple medical advice.

  30. A lot of Greeks boycott Lidl because the profits go outside the country, in this case to Germany. Anyway half of the products are low quality, much like the German bargain shops springing up here that are not bargains.

    At this point in time we prefer to buy Greek products.

  31. Clearly, you don’t understand how capitalism works — in the dynamics and structural changes that will follow. This is what happened in the UK.
    First, markets are “liberalised” allowing anyone to sell anything (usually uncontrolled). Prices drop and all the sheep start bleating about how good this idea was. Then, big business reduces prices further — intially through economies of scale, later through monopsonistic squeezing of their suppliers. The public is ecstatic about how cheap things are getting to be cheaper.
    The next stage is where is gets interesting. The small retailers, previously on low profits, now cannot survive. Most, sometimes all, close their doors. The small producers, likewise, such as fruit and vegetable growers, are similarly squeezed by the supermarkets — many of them go out of business, with only the cheapest and most efficient surviving. We now have a situation where big business is dominating the entire retail sector, and also controlling the production sector. Their profits, massive until recently, are mostly undertaxed and hived off to some foreign bank or location.
    The final stage is where the UK is now, and the Troika want Greece to follow. Prices are low, but employment is badly paid, part-time and short-term contracts. Household incomes are widely divergent, with massive income inequality (as in USA). The rich have made massive fortunes from the restructuring, while the middle class has lost out through various techniques designed to reduce their wealth, and the poor have increased in number and are dependent on state handouts, even though most are in low quality employment. The social situation is aggressive and unpleasant, and all that people are concerned with is MONEY.
    Oh, and the privatisations of state assets. These assets are handed out at knockdown prices to the rich, and the new monopolies raise prices (such as railfares) to extort money from the poor and middle class. Travelling by rail in the UK is now like taking a plane, with tickets reserved for one flight; the cost is (in peak hours) something like 200 euros to travel second class the distance of Athens to Salonika.
    :
    Are you sure that liberalisation is a good idea? Its proponents are big business and their political friends, like the criminal in a wheelchair. Doesn’t that tell you something?

  32. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    In Italy and France they destroy the West Alpes for their fast trains (TAV) that normal people will never can afford and the resistances fighters they jail broken windows as “terrorists” for 15 years in hell holes or Cosco is planning on fast tracks from Pirea to Belgrad but – tricky – freight trains are forbidden to rail fast.