PHARMACISTS are the latest section of the commercial sector to mount a protest against central government's recent free market legislation. Yesterday in the Balearics many closed their doors to the general public for at least two hours, while colleagues on the mainland in some areas, remained closed for the whole day. The President of the Majorcan Small Shopkeepers Association, Demetrio Peña, yesterday threw his support behind the pharmacists saying that the central government has been the target of a large lobby from the superstores, which now sell pharmaceutical products. The wider availability of many products has had a damaging effect on the income of pharmacists. Yesterday many pharmacists were having to defend themselves in the face of accusations that owning a pharmacy is one of the most profitable high street activities in Spain and that the country has the third highest number of pharmacies in Europe. On average, there is a chemist per 2'000 people and the government had to introduce laws three years ago restricting the distance between chemists and start reducing the number of new licences awarded each year. As it is, chemists have to be at least 250 metres apart, initially it was 500m, but under heavy protest, the government gave in, such is the lucrative attraction.

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