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Drugs gather dust in hospital pharmacies while patients run short

Stocks in state-owned pharmacies, which have been closed since the end of August, should be made available to private Gesy pharmacies to cope with ongoing drug shortages, the pharmaceutical association said on Wednesday.

A lack of established procedures is keeping drugs in these now closed pharmacies and unavailable to patients said the head of the association Eleni Piera.

She added they should be redistributed to Gesy pharmacies as soon as possible to stave off shortages and before their ‘use-by’ dates expire.

Deficiencies persist because drug importers were not aware of market needs, she said.

“There are stocks in state pharmacies that stopped operating at the end of August. There are too many stocks in hospitals and unfortunately the way to bring them to the market has not yet been found. These cover all kinds of medicines, drugs that we do not have,” she said.

“There are unused ones with the risk of expiring even because they cannot decide how to dispose of them since there is no established procedure. This is inconceivable, it should be considered an emergency at a time when there are shortages.”

According to Piera, some solutions to the shortages are working. One is for pharmacies to hand out a generic replacement to the missing drugs.

“The doctor prescribes something. If it is lacking then the patient is informed and we give the alternatives that are equivalent and the patient decides himself with the information given by the pharmacist,” she said.

“There is a perfect and harmonious collaboration between a doctor-patient and a pharmacist which did not exist in the past. The situation has fostered this cooperation and understanding and has helped a great deal in addressing the shortages. We ask that they keep it like this until the situation is normalised.”

The head of the association however criticised another problem stemming from the new health scheme, the fact that under Gesy, patients have to visit vaccination centres in public hospitals to get their yearly flu vaccines, causing long queues and shortages of vaccines.

“We should follow the example of other countries, where the private sector is involved in the vaccination,” she said.

In most European countries the elderly can visit a nearby pharmacy for their vaccination instead of visiting the few sites selected by the health ministry, and this has been implemented successfully.

“Pharmacists need to get training for this and can cooperate with doctors to achieve better results,” Piera said.

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