Roche will stop supplying drugs on credit terms to hospitals in Spain and Portugal, with supplies to Italy also in doubt.
The economic crisis spreading through Europe means that many hospitals are years behind with drug payments.
Patients in the worst-affected countries are facing critical shortages of expensive cancer drugs from Roche and other suppliers.
Roche has already refused to supply medicines to Greek hospitals on credit terms, and the company is adopting a hard line on unpaid bills.
A total of 12 hospitals in Spain and 23 in Portugal face a blockage on drugs from Roche, while Italian hospitals have been threatened with similar measures.
Roche’s spokesperson Silvia Dobry said that in Spain, “There are several hospitals that have not paid their bills for more than two years.” If they were able to reduce their level of debt, she added, credit might be resumed.
The Ministry of Health in Valencia said representatives of the region’s health and finance departments and the pharmaceutical industry have met to discuss the problem, which “will be remedied shortly”.
Spain’s regional governments are in talks with the pharmaceutical industry to defer payments.
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