21. May 2012 12:41
Major pharmaceutical companies are in discussion with European authorities to develop an emergency plan to maintain medicine supplies to Greece.
The country’s potential exit from the euro threatens the continuity of drug reimbursement and supply to patients.
An agreed solution may involve delays in payment for critical medicines to ensure short-term supplies during a phase of greater economic disruption.
Greece imports all of its medicines, relying heavily on branded products from European companies including AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis and Roche.
Drug suppliers are already owed €1.21bn by Greek state hospitals, and their approaches to the crisis vary: Novo Nordisk is demanding immediate payment, but GSK is not; Roche is supplying only to pharmacies, not to public hospitals.
Shortage of drug supplies is already affecting many Greek patients.
The industry’s strategy may have wider implications as the economic crisis spreads across the EU, with Spain, Ireland and other countries facing similar breakdowns in drug import trade.