Top court rules in favour of opening profession of pharmacists

Greece’s highest administrative court approved on Wednesday a revised presidential decree prepared by Health Minister Andreas Xanthos opening the profession of pharmacists, saying it is constitutional and legal.

The decree allows non-pharmacists, as well as pharmacists to open a store, provided they fulfills certain terms and conditions clarified in the documents and that they include a licensed pharmacist who will hold a 20 percent share. The licensee may operate a pharmacy either as a sole proprietor or as a trading company. It also sets out the procedure that must be followed for people who want to open a pharmacy in Greece.

The Council of State (CoS) also cited Greece’s commitment to the institutions to open the so-called “closed” professions by lifting tight controls on granting a license, noting that the relevant law was “necessary to overcome the over-consumption of drugs, the artificial demand for drugs and the promotion of non-generic medicines, which lead to an increase in state pharmaceutical expenditure and an excessive burden on social security funds, which is estimated by the above documents to be attributable, in part, to the monopoly on trade in pharmaceutical products by the closed profession of pharmacists.”

Last year, the CoS threw out a ministerial decision on the same issue, explaining that the government will have to submit a presidential decree to pass these amendments, rather than a ministerial decision.

The court has blocked, however, a paragraph in the decree relating to the participation of private diagnostic clinics.