Though it is not really apparent in Skopelos, those of us who have the opportunity to wander the streets of any city or large town in Greece will notice the abundance of pharmacies scattered here and there. Volos is an example where there may be three apothecaries on one block. One might conclude that the retail drug market is over saturated, yet pharmacies which might have one or two customers per hour stay in business. What’s up with that?
The Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (link), an association of community pharmacists throughout Europe, provides the handy chart which indicates the number of pharmacies per capita per country… and Greece wins with a whopping 97.26 pharmacists per 100,000 people is the European champion. Story source here (link)
What does this figure mean? That the Danes are super healthy or that people in Greece are heavily medicated, or there are a lot of pharmacies in Greece that are financially just getting by?
Following the per capita revelation was the story in iEfimerida (link) that two executives of the Greek subsidiary of the Swiss based multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis have appeared, whistle blowing, before the US Securities and Exchange Commission (Novartis is a member of the New York Stock Exchange) with documents implicating the company in bribery and money laundering.
Mr Kostas at Keep Talking Greece (link) writes with his usual cleverness about the issue.
Returning to the “Greece being the pharmacy champ of Europe” story, we wonder if the number of pharmacies per capita in Greece is in any way related to “Big Pharma” influence on local markets? How does Skopelos fare? With a population of 5,500 using 3 pharmacies we figure that there is one pharmacy for every 1,830 people. Seems reasonable. Volos has a population of 144,450 which could translate 140 pharmacies with a potential 1032 customers each. Taking location into account might suggest that some Volos pharmacies take more of that 1032 customer average and others less. Can a pharmacy with, say, 800 potential customers of which only a small percentage need prescriptions filled regularly survive ? If so, how?