Reforms with a plan and a vision are the only way forward for sustainable growth

Diamonds of the Greek Economy 2018

Olympios Papadimitriou, SFEE President


Reforms with a plan and a vision are the only way forward for sustainable growth


July 10th, 2018 – The pharmaceutical industry, globally and in Greece, is characterized by high investment in research and by innovation in treatment practices. A major challenge for the industry is how to bring new treatments in Greece and make them accessible to patients while ensuring the sustainability of the Health Care System and the pharmaceutical companies that support it. Equally important but also challenging is our goal to support the Greek pharmaceutical industry and reinforce its competitiveness and extroversion.

People outside the Health Sector might consider these goals as easily achievable; however, the reality is totally different. We operate currently under a regime of predefined closed-end budgets that are far from the Greek healthcare reality, excessive taxation and within a totally unpredictable business environment.

Insistence on unbearable burdens further exacerbates the lack of predictability and leads us to disinvestment. Any planning, even for the medium term, has effectively become impossible. The closed-end budget of €2.5 billion (for EOPYY and hospitals) has proved to be insufficient, both in practice but also by evaluating the factors that should define the public pharma expenditure that should not simply be linked to GDP. , Thus, without any limit, the excess and uncontrollable expenditure are simply passed to pharma companies! Through rebates and claw-backs the sector returned about €1.2 billion last year and, judging from the exorbitant rise in expenditure for the first quarter of 2018, this amount will be surpassed this year. The consequences for entrepreneurship and employment are tragic.

It is not only the pharmaceutical industry that suffers; Greek patients suffer too. Access to new treatments is threatened, while patient co-payment is not used rationally leading to extraordinary situations. Pharmaceutical companies cannot continue, covering almost one-third of pharmaceutical spending through rebates and claw-backs, substituting for the role of the state.

The occasion of the country’s exit from the MoUs in August requires to leave behind the “easy” to apply, across-the-board solutions that have been opted for as a way to deal both with irrationalities and with the fiscal constraints imposed on the area of healthcare as a result of the crisis. Clear priorities should now be set:

  • A clear commitment to the absolute amount of pharmaceutical expenditure of EOPYY and hospitals. Expenditure should not be just linked to GDP but also to the primary surplus.
  • Establishing a maximum, and gradually diminishing, amount of claw-back, or sharing the responsibility for its payment with the state, and eventually its abolition.
  • Prompt establishment of a special outlay for uninsured persons, which would come from the welfare budget.
  • Exclusion of vaccines from public pharmaceutical expenditure, as they relate to prevention, not treatment.
  • Coverage of special hospital medicines with inelastic demand (such as blood derivatives and medicines targeting rare diseases) from an additional outlay.