Greece has decided to ban the export of 25 types of drugs, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, following warnings by pharmacists that they faced difficulties in securing some supplies.
A ministry spokeswoman said the Greek drugs regulator had told a meeting at the ministry on Friday – when the pharmacists made their warnings – that there had been a significant increase in re-exports of some medicines.
"Abuses have been discovered by some players in the pharmaceuticals market," she told Reuters.
The ministry would closely check exports and re-exports over the past 15 days and file complaints at home and abroad where there is evidence of abuse, the spokeswoman said. She declined to say which drugs would be included in the ban.
Drugmakers have urged a curb on re-exports to prevent shortages in Greece during its economic crisis but wholesalers trading medicines have rejected the need for such emergency action.
The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), which represents 40 drug companies, called on Tuesday for "exceptional measures" in "exceptional circumstances." It urged "joint action by public authorities and private stakeholders to ensure medicines destined for Greek patients actually reach the patients they are intended for."
"A proportionate, legislative ban on exporting medicines intended for Greek patients from Greece would be an appropriate and justifiable response to possible shortages and help to avert a potential humanitarian crisis," it said in a statement.
The pharmaceuticals industry is owed more than 1.1 billion euros by Greek hospitals and the state-run health insurer in unpaid bills since December but it has promised to keep supply lines open on humanitarian grounds.
The re-export of drugs across European borders, which allows traders to buy products in low-cost markets and sell them where prices are higher, is permitted under European Union free trade rules.