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Monday, September 19th 2011

No Drugs For You

Major pharmaceutical manufacturers are stopping delivery of unpaid for drugs to funding starved public healthcare systems in struggling Eurozone countries like Greece.

Greek hospitals have large debts to many drug companies, according to the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies, or SFEE. As of June 30 this year, Greek’s state-financed hospitals had paid for just 37% of the €1.9 billion ($2.62 billion) worth of drugs delivered by SFEE member companies in the 18 months to June, 2011, the organization said in a recent report.

[...]

Early this year, Greece tried to clear some of its pharmaceutical debts by giving companies government bonds. “We didn’t have a choice. Everybody got government bonds. The question was, you got nothing or you got government bonds,” Mr. Schwan said, adding that Roche sold the bonds immediately.

[...]

Patients at some hospitals now must take their prescriptions to a local pharmacy, and, in the case of intravenous or injected cancer drugs, bring them back to the hospital to be administered, he said.

Mr. Schwan said patients haven’t been deprived of their medication as a result of the new measures, which he said Roche may need to adopt in Spain, as well. Some state-funded hospitals in Portugal and Italy have also fallen far behind on payments, he said.

There are hospitals “who haven’t paid their bills in three or four years,” Mr. Schwan said. “There comes a point where the business is not sustainable anymore.”

I can’t say, the little I know, I blame the big pharmacutrical companies. I know their margins worldwide, but why, as a for profit enterprise, would you continue these hand outs? For instance Novo Nordisk recieved significant criticism last year when it pulled the FlexPen from the Greek market over a unilateral move by the Greek government to start paying less for medicines. As the Eurozone crisis widens however I’m not sure how far we should expect healthcare corporate compassion and loss to extend.

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