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Pharmacists threaten action as prescriptions more than budgeted for

Pharmacists on Friday said they “can’t trust” the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) and are ready to take action to seek compensation for losses sustained last year.

Deputy head of the pharmaceutical association Ploutarhos Georgiades told CyBC radio that the HIO had breached its agreement and hence must compensate the pharmacists retroactively.

He explained that the funds allocated to them for the processing of prescriptions in 2022 came to €30 million, for 15 million medicinal packages. However, they actually processed 19 million items, translating to an additional cost of €8 million, Georgiades said.

The amounts initially agreed with the organisation also did not correspond to levels in 2020 and 2021, but pharmacists said they did not want to cause a stir because of the pandemic.

“We can’t trust a health insurance organisation which from the beginning has breached what was agreed,” Georgiades said.

As a result, many pharmacists who are part of the national health scheme (Gesy) are in a dire financial situation, he said and called for a renegotiation of the agreement.

Pharmacists, he said, are discussing the possibility of taking measures to demand compensation. They are expected to convene this weekend to decide their next steps.

The HIO works with a comprehensive budget and is not able to allocate more money than was foreseen in its budget, HIO head Athos Tsinontides.

He acknowledged that more prescriptions have been written than estimated but noted that they gave €32 million based on a pre-agreed formula. Tsinontides added they will analyse 2022 data to “do something better” for the allocation of funds next year.

A meeting between the pharmacists association and the HIO on Thursday failed to resolve the dispute as the organisation appeared unwilling to compensate the pharmacists.

After the meeting, the association said the health minister fully understands the situation and demands but the problem lies with the HIO.

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