Healthcare: An accident waiting to happen!

Pharmaceutical care provision at breaking point, following the government’s repeated failures to implement the law.
The next weeks will be critical.
Mistakenly low prices divert medicines abroad.
No arrears have been paid in the last two years. The industry is suffocated.

Athens, 8 Μarch 2013 Today, at a critical juncture for the country, the General Assembly of SFEE held its annual meeting and unanimously concluded the following: Due to repeated failures on the government’s part, the healthcare sector has reached a definite impasse. SFEE, with a deep sense of its responsibility, hereby informs public opinion that the provision of pharmaceutical care is at breaking point, getting closer by the day to hitting rock bottom, and there is a risk that many medicines, including several of vital importance, will soon become unavailable to Greek patients.

The blame on this situation is on the Health Ministry and its continued failure to correct mistakes in the pricing of pharmaceuticals, which have occurred repeatedly and in breach of the applicable legislation– the most striking example of such mistakes included in the recently issued Price Bulletin – and to allocate reasonably and fairly the funds available for the payment of arrears so as to safeguard the smooth operation and survival of pharmaceutical companies.

We inform public opinion that pharmaceutical companies are the only sector that has not received a single euro from EOPYY or Public Hospitals for two years now, although the relevant funds have already been disbursed. With arrears now totaling EUR 2 billion and with a loss of EUR 1 billion as a result of the PSI, many companies are unable to import products, adjusting their business plans again and again or facing a risk of collapse.

We inform public opinion that since December 2010 the country has experienced an informal “embargo” on new pharmaceuticals, whether original or generic products, and it remains unclear how longer the Greek patients will be without access to innovative treatments or why the State is financially burdened because of the failure to market generics.

We inform public opinion that so far the number of applications for withdrawing products from the market due to mistakes in the Price Bulletin points to very serious risks to public health, since unjustifiably and often mistakenly calculated prices create unfair incentives for re-exports of medicinal products. Unless action is taken to address this situation, many patients will soon be without access to the medicines and treatments they need.

SFEE, bringing together 29 Greek companies and 38 multinational subsidiaries, has been supporting the government and the Health Ministry in a number of decisions which, painful as they may be for its members, are appropriate for the circumstances. However, we cannot accept any decision that is contrary to legislation or contrary to reason and threatens the normal functioning of the pharmaceutical market and patients’ access to necessary treatments.

The focus of any policy and any decision must be on patients and citizens. We at SFEE have, in the last three years, given concrete proof of our commitment to this principle: we have done so through our actions and our proposals geared towards reducing public pharmaceutical spending, even though at a huge financial cost both to the companies and to their 25,000employees . Over the last four years public pharmaceutical expenditure will have been cut down by more than 50%. More than any other industry, we will have borne the brunt of the effort to reduce government spending.

We know that the Prime Minister has ordered the payment of public sector arrears, with a view to ensuring the normal functioning of the market.
We know that the funds for the payment of 2011-2012 arrears are earmarked at the State General Accounting Office, ready to be disbursed.
We do not know why none of the companies has received any payment yet!
We are considering all the options we have for claiming the money owed to us. Credit limits have been exhausted!
We remain vigilant and ready to live up to our responsibility to ensure that the citizens of this country have the best possible access – under the current circumstances – to the treatments they are entitled to.
We are making an ultimate appeal to the Ministry of Health and to EOF, calling them to urgently issue a correct Price Bulletin and proceed to the payment of arrears to the industry, as the only way to prevent the devastating consequences on health care.