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Greece / Council of State / 311/2018

Athens Pharmaceutical Association-Ministry of National Defence, v. Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity, Ministry of Health

Policy area:
Public Health
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Council of State
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
07/03/2017

Key facts of the case:

The case concerns a petition lodged before the Greek Council of State by the Athens Pharmaceutical Association for the annulment of the Ministerial Decrees regulating the establishment and operation of military pharmacies. In accordance with their regulatory framework, these pharmacies sell pharmaceutical products in reduced prices to a number of beneficiaries, including members of the armed forces, employees of the Ministry of Defence, and family members of the primary beneficiaries. They are, also, exempt from the regulations in place for private pharmacies, including territorial restrictions, rules for inspections and building regulations. The petitioners complain that the relevant provisions constitute a disproportionate restriction of their economic and professional liberty, are discriminatory, and violate the obligation to ensure the provision of high-quality health care. To support their claims, they invoke a number of relevant constitutional provisions (art. 5, 21, 25, 106), as well as article 35 of the Charter.

 

Key legal question raised by the Court:

The main question addressed in the proceedings was whether the operation of military pharmacies under the aforementioned framework violates the economic and professional liberty of private pharmacists. The Court also examined the claim that the operation of these pharmacies violates the “social” right to health care, especially in light of the fact that non-pharmacists may work there. 

Outcome of the case:

The Court rejected the petition on all grounds. Specifically, it found that a) the petitioner’s members’ professional liberty was not violated, since the relevant provisions do not introduce any additional requirements for the excercise of their profession; b) their economic liberty was not disproportionately restricted due to the limited number of persons benefiting from the operation of military pharmacies, and the specific public/social policy purpose military pharmacies serve; c) the exemptions instituted do not constitute favourable treatment and are justified in the military framework of operations; d) public health and the provision of quality healthcare are not compromised, since the military pharmacies are in any case supervised by a military official who is a licenced pharmacist.