Health minister, manufacturers meet to review drugs shortages

Health minister, manufacturers meet to review drugs shortages

The Greek agency for pharmaceuticals (EOF), wholesalers, pharmacies and others met on Monday with Health Minister Thanos Plevris to review the issue of lack of drug availability in the Greek market.

While all cited global issues in medicine shortages, they also said the issue was not as severe as in other countries since Greece has its own production of pharmaceuticals as well.

Measures already introduced and reviewed at the meeting include the restriction of exports in medication that is in short supply in Greece, continuing the checks on wholesalers to ensure the exports are not going ahead with medications needed in Greece and that they have enough stock for the Greek market, particularly for fever-reducing drugs and for children’s medication. Fines are restricted to shutdown by the government for export violations.

Other measures include the increase of orders for active ingredients by the Pharmaceutical Research & Technology (IFET), which is responsible for the import, production and distribution of pharmaceutical products, and briefings on drug shortages by the National Organization of Medicines (EOF), responsible for the supervision of medication for reasons of public health. EOF will also be responsible for informing the public of available generic drugs when the eponymous ones are in shortage.

It was also decided that Greek drug manufacturers will increase the production of generic drugs, while multinationals will increase the import to Greece of those drugs in shortages. Minister Plevris also said he will be meeting with doctors for updates.

Domestic production

In a separate but related development, the Panhellenic Union of the Pharmaceuticals Industry (PEF), representatives of which also attended the meeting with the minister, asserted in a statement that Greece was better off than other European countries because of domestic production. 

“As of September to November 2022, Greek drug companies produced over 25 million packaged drugs every month. Had this not been done, we would now be facing massive shortages even in drugs of chronic ailments, such as cholesterol medications, blood pressure medications, and drugs for congestive heart failure. At the same time, the Greek drug industry continues to supply domestic hospitals with first-line drugs, without break.”

Among figures it cited, PEF said 42 Greek pharmaceutical facctories worked round the clock at full capacity to cover Greek patients’ needs, “despite the unfavorable environment created by the continuing price reductions in old medications, the huge clawback, and excessive taxation that reaches 70%, the rise in production costs, and high inflation.” These costs are absorbed by the industry and not passed down to patients, it said. [AMNA]

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