A group of companies that supply state hospitals with orthopedic equipment said yesterday that they were indefinitely halting sales of goods because of unpaid bills. The money owed by the public sector to medical firms, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, has been a longstanding problem between suppliers and the hospitals. Yesterday's announcement by the PASYPOY association of firms selling orthopedic equipment comes after state hospitals racked up 700 million euros in unpaid invoices. Some companies claim that they have not been paid for up to three-and-a-half years. PASYPOY said that, on average, its members conduct 93 percent of their trade with state hospitals and clinics. The firms say that they are no longer being lent money by banks and the suppliers from abroad are refusing to give them any more supplies on credit. The orthopedic equipment firms said that they would be willing to supply hospitals in the case of emergencies but only if they are paid in cash. State hospitals are currently estimated to owe their suppliers 4.4 billion euros. Of this, some 3 billion is owed to pharmaceutical companies.