THE closure of chemists in the Valencian Community for two days prior to Christmas may be not be the last of the disruption.
The chemists were striking in protest against the fact that they were, and still are, owed monies for medications by the Valencia regional Government.
The system in Spain is that the chemist themselves buy medications from the drugs companies, then as they give out the drugs against prescriptions provided, they invoice the regional government for the cost.
You will see the chemist cutting the bar code segment from the packaging and retaining it for their invoice. It is accepted that the Government pays two to three months in arrears, but in the Valencia region, this had slipped to six months, simply because the regional government has not got the money to pay the chemists.
At the end of December a reported €60 million was paid over in respect of the medication bill from July.
This was the second part of a schedule of arrears payments agreed between the regional Government and the Valencian College of Pharmacies back in November.
The third tranche is due this week, and if not made, the prospect of further closures is inevitable, causing disruption to patients and customers.
“What can we do? We cannot keep paying the bills when we are not being paid,” one Costa Blanca pharmacist told EWN. The College said it regretted having to close the chemists but that it had no choice.
The closure was supported by nearly 100 per cent of chemists. The second tranche was itself delayed nine days beyond the agreed date due to “lack of liquidity,” said the regional government.
It is estimated by the regional government that it owes €312million to the region’s chemists, whilst the College put the figure at €550 million. To this, say the College, interest must be added, and is running on a daily basis.
Half of July’s payment is still due and approximately €120 million for each of the months from August through to November.
The Chemist’s College has urged the regional government to meet its commitment to meet its obligations regarding the outstanding debt. By Paul Deed