Cospedal to levy fines on striking pharmacies in debt row

The Popular Party regional premier of Castilla-La Mancha, María Dolores de Cospedal, announced Friday that she would begin proceedings to fine pharmacies who staged a strike in the region the previous day.

In all, 718 out of 1,274 pharmacies shut up shop for the day in protest over the non-payment of some 125 million euros the regional administration owes in subsidies for prescriptions. Cospedal is blaming the previous Socialist regional government for the late payment.

"What the [central]government should do is meet its obligations, and we have the right to oblige it to comply with the law," Cospedal said. "As all they have left is debt, it is very difficult to meet the payments on time."

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The regional premier added that her administration had been working to find a solution to the problem and said that plans to resolve the impasse were "on the table," but that the pharmacies "did not wish to take them up."

Cospedal set the wheels in motion to impose fines, which could range from 3,000 euros to 15,000 euros, on those outlets that closed.

Pharmacies have mooted charging full price for prescription medicines and leaving it to customers to reclaim the subsidy directly from the regional health services.

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