Greece holds negative record of heaviest burden on pharmaceutical companies – three times the European average!


The level of rebates and claw-backs that pharmaceutical companies in Greece are required to pay is unique by European standards and indicative of the overtaxation that is killing the industry. Based on data collected by SFEE from ten national industry associations in European countries, pharmaceutical companies in Greece contribute 27.3%(!!!) of total public pharmaceutical expenditure, compared with a European average of 8,6%, as shown in the following table:

Country Combined Rebate & Claw-back

(EUR millions)

Percentage contribution of industry to total public pharmaceutical expenditure
Germany 5,559 13.3%
France 1,637 6.0%
Italy 1,401 7.4%
Average 1,168 8.6%
Greece 946 27.3%
Spain 500 3.1%
Romania 243 7.8%
Portugal 161 6.6%
Ireland 51 2.9%
Sweden 16 0.8%
Netherlands 0.0%

The above comparison, which is a sad sign for the future of pharmaceutical companies in our country, was highlighted by the President of SFEE, Mr. Pascal Apostolides, at the HealthWorld 2017 Conference of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

Moreover, Mr. Apostolides presented evidence from a recent study prepared by health economics professors, suggesting that pharmaceutical expenditure depends on a number of exogenous and endogenous factors which have not been taken into account and that the real needs of patients have been ignored in the determination of expenditure for Greece. The study concludes that the current pharmaceutical budget in Greece is lower than implied by the demographic, epidemiological and economic characteristics of the domestic market, pointing to a need for policies to regulate and rationalise the quantities and mix of pharmaceutical products, as well as a need for an increase in expenditure.

In an already adverse environment, with pharmaceutical companies paying nearly EUR 1 billion in rebates and claw-backs and with an insufficient public pharmaceutical expenditure budget that cannot meet the increased needs of Greek patients (having been reduced by 62% in the years of the crisis and standing at just 50% of the European average), the leadership of the Ministry of Health is promoting further across-the-board measures which threaten the viability of companies and, most importantly, affect patients’ access to medicines that are necessary for their lives.

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