In Brief

Eurostat officials in Athens as part of pre-2000 fiscal probe A team of officials from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, arrived in Athens yesterday to further its probe into Greece’s fiscal situation before the country joined the eurozone. They are considered likely to report to the economy and finance ministers council (Ecofin), which is due to confer in Brussels next week. Greece has said there is no issue of any reassessment in the methods for evaluating Greek public finances before 2000, as these were approved by the Commission. Ecofin has postponed a discussion of the excessive fiscal deficits of Greece and six other EU members to December, but the Commission is due to take up the issue at the end of the month. Ethics committee for more credibility in drug clinical tests An ethics committee has been set up in Greece for a new system to render clinical studies of drugs more credible, announced Deputy Minister for Health and Social Solidarity Thanassis Yiannopoulos yesterday, opening The Economist conference in Athens. «Studies should not be products of interpersonal relations,» he said. PASOK Deputy Athanassios Tsouras defended the prescription drugs list, asking for its reinforcement «for better treatment of patients and to save resources.» Participants in the conference, titled «The Future of the Pharmaceutical Environment,» also heard that new hopes for fighting cancer, preventing heart attacks and treating Alzheimer’s are created by developments in pharmaceutical science and biotechnology. Currently, 395 drugs are being developed for cancer, 18 for heart disease and 53 for Alzheimer’s, while the development of each costs more than $1 billion, it was claimed. Sioufas-GE Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and General Secretary for Industry Spyros Papadopoulos yesterday met with the chairman and CEO of General Electric Europe, Middle East, Africa, Canada and Latin America, Nani Becalli-Falco, and other regional company officials. Discussion centered on issues of power production, the institutional framework of the energy market, the big energy projects under way, the deregulation of the energy market and the planned tax and investment incentives laws, the ministry said. Private Insurance Day The Association of Insurance Companies (EAEE) said on today’s occasion of «Private Insurance Day» that it is expecting Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis to promote incentives for private insurance to contribute more to solving the problem of the country’s pension system. EAEE’s Committee for Life Insurance President Minos Moisis said the problem is a social one and, as actuarial studies show, will aggravate before 2025 if the pension system does not include the participation of private insurance companies. EAEE’s director-general, Margarita Antonaki, said citizens now view private insurance more positively, although rates per head in Greece are only 263 euros, with the EU average at 2,110 euros.