For patients and pharmacists in
financially stricken Greece, even finding aspirin has turned
into a headache.
Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class Athens
suburb, spends hours each day pleading with drugmakers,
wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients.
Life-saving drugs such as Sanofi (SAN)’s blood-thinner Clexane and
GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s asthma inhaler Flixotide often appear as
lines of crimson data on pharmacists’ computer screens, meaning
the products aren’t in stock or that pharmacists can’t order as
many units as they need.
“When we see red, we want to cry,” Mavrou said. “The
situation is worsening day by day.”
The 12,000 pharmacies that dot almost every street corner
in Greek cities are the damaged capillaries of a complex system
for getting treatment to patients. The Panhellenic Association
of Pharmacists reports shortages of almost half the country’s
500 most-used medicines. Even when drugs are available,
pharmacists often must foot the bill up front, or patients
simply do without.