No drug price hikes this year

The pharmaceuticals industry yesterday asked the government to allow it to raise prices for over 1,800 drugs. Its demand was favorably received by the government. Speaking after a meeting with industry representatives, Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris said that their demand was «reasonable,» adding that previous price lists published by the State had been «incomplete.» «It is difficult for me to make a decision that will create a wave of price increases,» Koulouris said. However, he promised to look at their demand favorably in January and take unspecified measures to help the domestic industry. Until the end of the year, prices will remain steady. The president of the Panhellenic Association of Pharmaceuticals Industrialists (PEF), Theodoros Tryfon, said that the sector has lost 2,500 jobs in the past three years because of declining revenue. He added that 1,400 drugs are old ones whose prices have been kept low for years and which retail for 1-3 euros. PEF has also called for increases in the prices of generic drugs that substitute for patented ones whose patent has expired. They want the price to rise from 80 percent of that of the patented drug to 95 percent. Greek-owned pharmaceuticals firms account for 50 percent of the employees and 95 percent of the investment in the sector, but have a combined market share of only 10 percent. Local industrialists claim that more expensive foreign drugs are preferred to their own, cheaper ones. Tryfon said that consumption of drugs increases at a modest 2.5 percent a year and that the high spending on medicines is not the result of excessive prescription and consumption but of the substitution of local drugs by more expensive foreign products.