Saturday Jan 31, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
16o C
13o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Drugmakers seek EU deal to keep supplies flowing

The head of Europe's drug industry has written to EU leaders ahead of their summit this week seeking major concessions to help keep supplies of medicines flowing to crisis-hit countries like Greece and Spain.

Faced with deep price cuts and billions of euros in unpaid bills, companies want two special measures to prevent discounts offered in southern Europe from being exported to rich states in the north, where governments can afford to pay for innovation.

In a forthright letter, GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Andrew Witty, who heads Europe's pharmaceuticals association, says failure to ring-fence austerity cuts will undermine a sector that provides 660,000 European jobs.

"In these extraordinary times for Europe, its economies and its citizens, business as usual - cost-containment policies that create market distortions - will drive investment elsewhere, Witty said.

Reuters reviewed a copy of his letter sent to European Union leaders, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Council President Herman Van Rompuy ahead of the June 28-29 summit.

The euro crisis has caught drugmakers between a rock and a hard place: they are under moral pressure to maintain supply to avert a health catastrophe, yet face financial losses.

The strain is starting to tell. Germany's Biotest, a small supplier of blood products, became the first drugmaker to pull out of Greece a week ago due to unpaid debts.

Greece's healthcare system is floundering under a tangle of unpaid bills. Industry figures show less than 1 percent of drug sales to the Greek state for the first quarter of 2012 have been paid off and the total is only 34 percent for the whole of 2011.

Big international drug companies have so far stuck with difficult markets such as Greece, although some like Roche and Novo Nordisk are demanding cash on delivery in certain cases. But Witty says they need support.

In Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain alone, drug companies have contributed more than 7 billion euros ($8.8 billion) to balancing health budgets through exceptional price cuts and discounts in 2010 and 2011, Witty wrote in his letter.

The overall impact is still greater because governments across Europe - and, indeed, across the world - refer to prices in southern Europe when setting their own drug prices.

Low prices in southern Europe have also helped suck medicines out of the region as wholesalers re-export drugs to countries, like Germany, where prices are higher.

To counter the problem, EU member states should agree to exclude from their reference pricing baskets any countries undergoing fiscal restructuring programs, according to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (Efpia), of which Witty is president.

Efpia also wants the EU to accept a temporary ban on the re-export of medicines from states that are fighting to rebalance public finances. This could help prevent supply shortages but it is a big ask, since the Commission closely guards the right to such free movement of goods under EU laws.

"We're asking the heads of state to help us, but by helping us they are also helping themselves, Richard Bergstrom, the Brussels-based director general of Efpia, said in a telephone interview.

"That would unlock the potential for us to be more creative with governments in meeting their needs, particularly for those countries undergoing structural programs."

Witty's letter said Efpia firms had worked very hard in the member states that have had the biggest challenges to try and ensure continuity of supply.

This includes weighing emergency plans to keep drugs flowing into Greece if it should crash out of the euro, industry sources said last month.

In return for such cooperation, drugmakers want a better return in richer countries. Executives from Pfizer, Bayer and GSK have all complained in recent months that Europe is undermining drug research by not paying its fair share relative to the United States and Japan.

There is particular frustration at drug vetting systems in countries like Germany and Britain, which often stop pricey medicines from being offered on state health systems.

Supporters of such cost-effectiveness regimes, however, say they are a counterbalance to profit-driven drug companies, which too often slap high prices on new products with few clinical advantages.

[Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Monday June 25, 2012 (13:56)  
Tsipras says Greece to repay ECB, IMF, reach deal with euro area
Greece seeks EU allies but Germany holds firm
Merkel rejects debt writedown for Greece
US to work closely with Greece and EU to resolve differences, says White House
ECBs Constancio signals Greek waiver may end if program dropped
Vitor Constancio signaled that the European Central Bank stands ready to end its acceptance of Greeces junk-rated debt for bank funding if the government drops out of an aid program. If a n...
Greece starts countdown to cash crunch saying bailout over
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis set the clock ticking on Greeces standoff with the euro area on Friday saying hes ready to take his chances without a financial backstop rather than submi...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Panathinaikos preserves perfect home record
After yet another great performance at home, Panathinaikos defeated Galatasaray 86-77 in Athens on Friday to get to three wins in five games at the Euroleague top-16. The Greek champion shoo...
SOCCER
Gattuso: Unpaid OFI players couldnt buy food
Former coach Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the lid on the plight of crisis-club OFI Crete which has been banned from playing in the Super League until it clears mounting debts with its staff. T...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Unyielding truth
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakiss recent statement that growth does not mean having Porsche Cayennes in the narrow streets of Greece has made something of an impression and is now being ...
EDITORIAL
This is not a game
Greeces negotiations with its partners and creditors must be conducted in such a way as to safeguard the countrys real economy, a vital sector which prior to the elections had appeared to ...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. ECBs Constancio signals Greek waiver may end if program dropped
2. Greece starts countdown to cash crunch saying bailout over
3. How Greece can run out of cash and what ECBs Draghi can do
4. Tsipras says Greece to repay ECB, IMF, reach deal with euro area
5. Varoufakis to meet French counterpart on Sunday
6. No lending to Greek banks if no deal by end of February: ECBs Liikanen
more news
Today
This Week
1. US to work closely with Greece and EU to resolve differences, says White House
2. Greek bank debt plummets as investors head for the exit
3. Merkel rejects debt writedown for Greece
4. Greek markets plunge as SYRIZA digs in on challenge to austerity
5. Tsipras says Greece to repay ECB, IMF, reach deal with euro area
6. Greece seeks EU allies but Germany holds firm
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
4. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
5. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
6. EU must accept that Greek debt relief is inevitable
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.