SFEE: Bold interventions to address the problems facing the Health Sector
• The outstanding debts of public hospitals and the Organisation for the Provision of Health Services (EOPYY) to pharmaceutical companies have reached the amount of €1.8 billion
• A call for the government’s explicit and written commitment to ensure the prompt payment of its obligations to the pharmaceutical industry by the end of 2012
• Prompt implementation of structural reforms in the pharmaceutical market
• A Stability Pact between the pharma industry and the government, penned in clear and simple terms, to safeguard the interests of Greek patients, social security funds, employment and entrepreneurship in Greece.
Athens, 11 September 2012 – The above were the main points of the address of SFEE’s President, Mr Konstantinos Frouzis, at the 11th Healthworld 2012 Cοnference entitled “Reviewing the Memorandum — Impacts on Healthcare”, held in Athens today.
Mr Frouzis stated that over the past three years the government’s outpatient pharmaceutical expenditure has been reduced by 45%. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are the largest direct creditor of public hospitals and of EOPYY and are owed €1.8 billion, while they have suffered a loss of €1 billion as a result of the haircut on the bonds given to them by the government in settlement of unpaid supplies, and in effect they have not received any payment since 2006.
In this regard, Mr Frouzis stressed that “the Government should make an explicit commitment in writing that, once the expected next portion of the loan is received by Greece, it will adhere to a schedule for the settlement of its obligations to pharmaceutical companies within 2012, in order to ensure that the industry can continue to fulfil its role as a supplier, which is essential for the sustainability of the healthcare system”. Moreover, the EOPYY’s funding problem should be dealt with at the highest political level, and all parties concerned must realise that this is not a matter of costs, but rather one of revenues and revenue mis-forecasts.
“We are willing to help the government and jointly work out effective solutions”, explained SFEE’s President. However, Mr Frouzis called upon policymakers to honour their commitments and implement the legislated structural reforms and measures, which are key to controlling expenditure: appropriate price reductions for off-patent branded medicines and generics; expansion of reimbursement at a social security price (currently applied on a pilot basis); prompt and universal application of the current e-prescribing system to enhance transparency, speed and cost-effectiveness; and a fair system of trade margins for all participants along the medicines supply chain, as envisaged in the Memorandum. Moreover, implementation of the positive reimbursement list, more efficient hospital costs and control of biomedical technology. According to Mr Frouzis, “had these policies been implemented, it would not have been necessary to adopt supplementary measures”. Mr Frouzis went on to underline that “the government’s strategic goal and plan on claw back signals precisely its failure to implement the necessary structural reforms”.
Any overrun in pharmaceutical expenditure existing still after the implementation of the above measures should be evenly allocated across all health care providers, to ensure that they each pay their due. SFEE’s suggests that any such overrun should from now on be calculated on an annual basis, allowing for month-on-month fluctuations.
SFEE is willing to be part of the solution, in an effort to preserve health and not perpetuate the problem. Further, Mr Frouzis pointed out that “the excessive squeezing of pharmaceutical costs targeted for 2013-2014 is tantamount to a full collapse of primary care, which would only divert patient demand to hospitals, causing overall healthcare spending to soar”. For this reason, he added, “a Stability Pact between the pharma industry and the government, with mutual rights and obligations penned in clear and simple terms, is the only way out. Otherwise, the pharmaceutical industry cannot be expected to supply to an unsustainable system on credit forever.”