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article imageAccess to medicines restricted in Greece

By Tim Sandle     Mar 12, 2013 in World
Athens - Access to new medicines for patients in Greece has been on hold since December 2010 and the arrears owing to pharmaceutical companies from the state-run health insurer total over 2 billion euros.
One significant consequence of the current economic woes in Greece is the health sector. This is on a number of levels, Pharma Times reports. Firstly, since December 2010, Greece has had an embargo on new medicines, both originator and generic products. This means that new and innovative treatments have not been made available to patients.
The healthcare system in Greece consists of a small private sector and a large public health provision consisting of public hospitals and a state-run health insurer, the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), which is a form of national insurance. Early on into the economic crisis, according to LSE analysis, the Greek government has had to act to increase contributions to the health system, reduce the coverage of the National Health Services Organization (EOPYY), and reduce the costs of healthcare (which meant cutting back on certain medicines and restricting access to new drugs).
The second issue is one raised by the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), which represents 29 Greek drugmakers and 38 multinationals. The trade association is claiming that its members have not been paid for over a year by the Greek government and that arrears now total 2 billion euros. One downside of this is that the pharmaceutical companies no longer have available funds to import medicines, which leads to supply shortages for Greek patients.
The SFEE also states that over the last four years, pharmaceutical expenditure in Greece has been cut by more than 50%.
The SFEE links these issues to the economic crisis which has beset Greece. In a press release it states: “It should be noted that the key underlying cause of these shortages is the economic crisis, as the associated liquidity constraints and credit squeeze have severely impaired transactions between manufacturers/importers-wholesalers-retailers, which is an issue beyond EOF’s scope of responsibility.”
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