Greek debt crisis: Food and vital drug 'shortages' ahead of historic referendum tomorrow

Greece will go to the polls tomorrow to decide whether to accept a deal from EU and IMPF creditors

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The Independent Online

Greek pharmacists and supermarkets warned of vital drug and food shortages as the country’s Prime Minister delivered a defiant message to the population last night.

Addressing a rally of some 25,000 supporters Alexis Tsipras urged the crowd to vote ‘No’ on Sunday’s referendum, telling voters to defy “those who terrorise you”.

It was a bold message, but one at odds with reports emerging from people at the frontline services of a country crippled by debt and haemorrhaging important tourist incomes.

Pharmacies are reportedly out of vital drugs, such as Thyroxine - used to treat Thyroid conditions - with one chemist confirming she had “shortages”.

Mary Papadopoulou, who runs a pharmacy in Plaka district, told the Guardian that “unless things change dramatically we’ll be having a lot more shortages next week.”

It is not the first warning. Last week the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) wrote to the European Commission to warn the Greek medicine supply chain is more complicated than other EU nations and therefore “particularly vulnerable” to disruption.

The public letter added that should the supply chain fall, this could present "a risk to public health".

The majority of Greece’s drugs are imported, with the country owing international companies an estimated €1.1bn (£779m), and although the largest companies – such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca – have drawn up contingency plans it remains unclear what will happen should a Grexit take place.

Meanwhile, restaurants and hotels – as well as basic supermarkets – have claimed to be suffering from food shortages. The islands of Mykonos and Santorini, hugely popular tourist destinations, have claimed they are running out of basic foodstuffs.

“Imports, exports, factories, firms, transport – everything is frozen,” Vasilis Korkidis, head of the national Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, told the Guardian.

Like medicine, much of Greece’s food is imported but with the banks no longer able to transfer cash, companies have been left unable to pay suppliers.