Payment dispute between government, pharmacies grows with new deadline

Payment dispute between government, pharmacies grows with new deadline

Payment dispute between government, pharmacies grows with new deadline

DHA photo

The tension in the payment dispute between the Turkish government and the country’s pharmacies has risen, with the latter setting a March 31 deadline for selling drugs within the coverage of social security if their list of demands is not accepted. 

The Istanbul Association of Pharmacists said March 28 that its contract with the Social Security Institution (SGK) will expire in four days and that it “won’t be responsible for the chaos” in drug service if it is not renewed. 

Without a deal, patients will automatically have to buy drugs from pharmacies at regular prices without an SGK discount before they apply to the SGK to collect their invoices, Cenap Sarıalioğlu, the head of the organization, said at a press meeting. 

The body demanded making SGK discounts over the SGK revenues, not the total revenues. 

The pharmacies’ other demands included increasing the scale of sales, lowering discount ratios, increasing the service fee per prescription, defining the prescription service fee without value added tax, removing the collection of examination fees via pharmacies, the payment of service fee per prescription in mobile prescriptions, increasing service fees for sales outside work hours and other economic benefits. 

Sarıalioğlu said some 13,000 pharmacies in the country are on the brink of bankruptcy. 

“In January, in order to discuss our economic demands, a three-month temporary protocol was signed between the Social Security Institution and the Turkish Pharmacists’ Association, as the budget approval process had yet to be finished. This protocol will be over in four days. In a series of meetings with the participation of our trade body and pharmacists as individuals, Social Security Institution officials and the minister of Labor and Social Security, we conveyed our problems in detail,” he said. 

Some 54 percent of the pharmacies in Turkey are struggling to survive with an income below the poverty line while in a loan-debt spiral, he also said. 

The authenticity of these facts has been approved and known by the Labor Ministry and Social Security and Economic Coordination Council, he also said. 

“The legal owners and experts of drugs are pharmacists. We won’t sacrifice any of our colleagues to the irresponsibility of officials. We won’t be responsible for the chaos in drug service after March 31,” he also said. 

The general secretary of the Turkish Pharmacists’ Association (TEB) recently said pharmacies across the country will stop providing Syrian refugees with free medication unless concrete steps are taken to institute a new protocol, as pharmacies have not been paid for six months.

TEB General Secretary Arman Üney said there was no extant protocol between the association and Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), adding that pharmacies supplying medication to Syrian refugees had not been paid for six months. If no concrete steps are taken to resolve this issue by March 31, pharmacies will stop providing medication to Syrian refugees, Üney had said.