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Will Greeks Get Their Drugs at Super-Markets? So to Say “At the Cheese Stand”?

In the country of innovation and the unprecedented, no extreme is impossible. Greek Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos said, that he would make law changes so that drugs could be obtained also at super markets. Speaking at the Healthworld 2012 conference, organized by the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce, Lykourentzos said:

“We will find ways to make medicine available also outside the pharmacies.”

A statement that has been interpreted by all Greek media that the Minister implied that Greeks would be able to get drugs also at super-markets.

Lykourentzos message was addressed more the ears of pharmacists than those of super-market owners. 

Greek pharmacists continue to block the credit on prescription medicine thus forcing insured patients to pay life-saving drugs from their own pockets and ask refunds from the national health care organisation EOPYY.

Prompt was the answer from the Pharmacists’ Association in Athens, who said : “It is unprescedented that he who owes money blackmails”

Drugs in Super-markets?

Combining this news with some other that had claimed patients would get medicine only by piece (loose medicine) to cover their needs, I can very well imagine:

Greek sick consumers standing line at the cheese stand.

The granny next to me would order: “1/2 kilo of  soft feta, 15 cholesterole tablets.” 

 The grandpa getting “1 quarter Graviera, 5 diabetes pills.”

And a mom asking for “10 slices cheese for toast and three tablespoons of coughing syrup.”

Unconfirmed rumors coming from my neighborhood’s SM claim, the butcher would be responsible for handing out only very expensive prescription medicine…


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  1. Im not sure why this is so strange to people. I dont know how it is in the uk but in Canada, every single supermarket/grocery store has a pharmacy section with a licensed pharmacist. Convenient and keeps prices competivite. Why should i have to go to a pharmacy to buy over the counter products.

    • over the counter products? well, as usual no minister here is able to explain exactly and with details any innovative modell he heard somewhere abroad and want to implement in Greece. I was sure that pharmacy in super-markets idea has been implemented somewhere else too. No Greek politician would ever manage to produce an original idea. Just copy-paste and import.Not bad actually, however they forget to adjust things to Greek realities. Just like the idea with loose medicine. This ‘firework’ was made public some months ago, the innovative health minister who had created the new (and meanhwile broke after less than one year of operating) national health care organisation disappeared from the political scene and it looks as if he is about to form a new political party. We -left behind with a collapsed health care system – wish him good luck…

      • The real question of course is being seriously avoided here, the ephilant in the room 🙂

        Do we really NEED all those drugs? Yes, some of them are needed by some people, but it seems to me that some seriously expensive, dangerous stuff is handed out like smarties, and completely unnecessary as well. It is, as usual, hard to find figures for Greece, so here’s the next best thing. Yesterday, a Belgain newspaper reported that 5.3% of Belgian are on anti-depressants! That is a staggering amount of officially depressed people. It would make you depressed…It also represent a staggering amount of money for the pharmaceutical industry, which, I think, is much more the objective of the prescription madness that creates such a statistic.
        And we end up with a large slice of the population addicted to serious heavy drugs. All legal of course, because the “right” people make money on them.
        Remember your Friends Siemens? Didn’t they get fined for bribing doctors etc to prescribe their products? I believe the company in question was Jansen Pharmaceutics. Their US counterpart is Johnson & Johnson. Worth your while looking them up. They received the largest fine in the history of American Law, for… yes, you guessed, misrepresenting their stuff through all sorts of dubious tactics.

        It doesn’t really matter where the dispensary is based, supermarket or pharmacy, as long as the person in charge knows what s/he is doing.
        The main question remains though, why so many, unnecessary pills?

        • I cannot tell if people need all the drugs they get prescribed or they just buy from the pharmacy. But I can tell, that an IKA doc tried to delete 3 drugs from the list of a chronic ill relative, who takes them for 5 years. The disease is not curable but drugs help to slow down the disease progress.
          As the human kind is mortal, we’ll all die some day whether with or without drugs. Some needs anti-depressive to help them cope with when life strikes back.

          5.3% of Belgians (no government, but also no severe economic crisis either) on anti-depressants? Greeks should be on them at 60%.

          The real question on the drugs issue in Greece that is being pernanently avoided is: the exorbitant profits that were made in the last decades by the pharma & medicla supplies companies. Scandal? what scandal? we’re generous…

  2. Google rite aid as it is a huge supermarket style pharmacy in usa and open 24 hours in most cities, so no more driving all over Athens looking for a pharmacy that has your meds on weekends

    • sure, only that prescription medicine cannot be refunded when bought on online pharmacy.

      • Rite aid is brick and mortar pharmacy, not online pharmacy. Only non prescription meds can be bought online. For all other meds you go to their store, open 24 hours in most USA cities, and it is like giant Bakaliko to sell food items, gift items too

  3. Big differece USA and Greece, Greece is Shop owners set rules and priorities. USA customer is King

  4. The Canada example sprung to mind by me too. It’s really great. Other examples are the non-prescription drugs you can buy in some countries in supermarkets. Things like paracetamol. No, not next to the cheese. But at the same counter as the tabacco products.
    What I don’t know is if it really helps to bring prices down. What I do know is that I can get a lot more paracetamol for the same euro outside of Greece.
    What most are forgetting is that most Pharmacies here are doing all kinds of first line medical stuff too. There you go to have your blood pressure checked. If you have something bothering you, but you have no idea, you always can ask your pharmacist. He/she can point you to the specialist you should try. And more of that stuff.
    Pharmacists here in Greece are doing some things a family doctor would do in a lot of other countries. So their role is much more than just shuffling pills around.
    Yes, there are way to many. Yes, there are all kinds of things that are crazy. But before throwing the baby away with the washing water Greek politicians should think about how to keep the important parts of the pharmacy system intact…
    Who am I kiddin’!!! Greek politicians and thinking… tsssssk.

  5. Is the concept of buying general medications at the supermarket so strange? A supermarket is for convenience, why not let them sell these products. At least supermarkets are open and don’t strike, there’s no sign on the door with a list of supermarkets open in the area when that particular one is closed and it takes the monopoly away from the pharmacists.
    A great idea if you ask me (if it’s ever put into practice).
    Next, all shops open on a Sunday. Get productive, get competitive!

    • I maybe have not managed to bring my point correctly, I’m afraid: I don’t mind where I get medication as long as it’s sold by people with expertise and I get the md on insurance fund credit, I don’t mind to get loose pills and tablespoons of syrup. But I do mind to be considered as an ‘idiot’ by -any- government promising “fireworks” that do not work here for the obvious reasons: the syndicates, the trade unions and the closed professions. Bills are passed at the parliament and stay there under mountians of dust. In my real life nothing changes except for the worse.

      All shops open on Sunday, all shops open 24/7/365. Dynamic economy. Here and now! But not with them.

      Therefore I will continue to be sarcastic until I see the first serious bill-change turn into practice.