HUNDREDS of Spanish pharmacies have closed for several hours in a strike over government failure to pay their bills.

Pharmacies across Catalunia put up notices in their shutters informing customers they would be closed for half the day across the region.

Chemists took to the streets of Barcelona to demand the government pay its outstanding charges.

The government has not paid for prescription medicine issued under the public health system in November and December 2012, or May and October 2013, running up a bill of €416 million.

One protestor said: “The duties of a pharmacist do not include financing the medication of customers. If this continue we will have to stop giving out medication.

“You are constantly struggling morally because you know you have to provide the medicine but at the same time you are putting your business t risk”

Catalonia received €9.07 billion from a fund to help debt-laden regions in January.