One in four of the Algarve’s pharmacies faces closure
The national figure is 21%, but the Algarve is near the top of the list with 27% of pharmacies trading as insolvent or with charges over their assets.
At the start of 2018, 31 one pharmacies in the Algarve faced insolvency or seizure of assets, according to a tracking survey from the statistics centre of the National Association of Pharmacies.
The situation worsened during 2017, leaving 630 pharmacies, of a national total of 2,943, in a precarious financial situation.
In the Algarve there are more than three dozen pharmacies that are in difficulties and may not survive.
“The Portuguese economy has taken steps forward, but pharmacies continue to live in a climate of crisis and austerity,” says Paulo Cleto Duarte, president of the National Association of Pharmacies.
“Despite the difficulties, pharmacists and their teams will continue the struggle to offer healthcare access to the most isolated populations,” said Duarte.
According to the national association, the situation started to deteriorate in 2012 when the Troika, as part of the ‘financial rescue’ package, forced the government to reduce gross profit margins on drug sales to between 17% and 17.5%, down from the normal 20% the pharmacies used to make.
Pharmacists say the reduction in margins was “poorly applied” and saved the State less than €50 million while costing the pharmaceutical supply sector around €600 million.
In order to halt insolvency proceedings for hundreds of pharmacies the national association wants the government to review the margin cut and to allow pharmacies to provide services such as nursing and nutrition as agreed in 2017 with the Ministries of Finance and Health.
According to the National Association of Pharmacies, the number of pharmacies in insolvency has more than tripled in the last five years with Portalegre leading the rout with 32.6% of pharmacies affected, followed by Setúbal (28.4%), Santarém (28.6%), Guarda (28.8%) and Faro (27.1%).
There also has been a 130% increase in seizure notices issued, from 61 (2.1% of the total) in December 2012 to 216 (7.3%) in December 2017.
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