NEWS

Prescription-happy doctors targeted

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos vowed to clamp down on doctors who issue a suspiciously high amount of medicine prescriptions, for which the taxpayer has to foot the bill, as part of a drive to significantly lower Greece?s drugs costs.

Speaking to Skai TV, Loverdos said that recent checks had revealed more than 20 doctors who were making liberal use of their prescription slips. He said that in one case, a doctor had written prescriptions for drugs worth 400,000 euros in just the last three months. The minister added that the doctor was not an oncologist and there was no justification for him running up such a large pharmaceutical bill.

Greece recently introduced an electronic prescription scheme designed to cut down on waste and corruption in the issuing of drugs but Loverdos said that there were still doctors who were trying to exploit the system. ?Despite the electronic prescription system, there are currently doctors who issue 100 or more prescriptions a day with more than 10 different drugs in each prescription,? he said.

Loverdos has overseen a number of attempts to reduce Greece?s drugs bill, including instructions to the newly formed National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPPY) to only prescribe generic drugs to patients. Currently, only 18 percent of drugs prescribed in Greece are generic. The government hopes the move will help reduce the drugs bill by about 1 billion euros to 2.8 billion, which will be in line with the demands that have been made by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Loverdos is to submit a new law to Parliament on Thursday that will impose severe penalties on EOPPY doctors who are deemed to be too liberal with prescriptions as well as for committing other disciplinary offenses. He said that he would also provide Parliament with the names of the doctors who are suspected of issuing a suspiciously high number of prescriptions.

Loverdos also said that other areas would be examined, such as the number of CAT scans that doctors order. He said some 3.5 million CAT scans are carried out in Greece each year, which is double the EU average, the minister claimed.