Hotlines set up to help cancer sufferers find medecines

Pharmacists in Athens have set up two hotlines for cancer sufferers to call if they are having difficulties finding the drugs they need for their therapy.

Serious shortages of anti-cancer drugs have been reported as a result of public spending cuts and the reluctance of pharmacists to stock the expensive medicines because of fears they will not be paid by social security funds. This means that the drugs are usually only kept by public hospitals and even then, not all hospitals have them.

Cancer patients have been advised to call 210-5220954 and 210-5220955 to receive assistance in their search for the drugs they need.

The head of the Cancer Sufferers Volunteer Organization, Zoi Grammatoglou, told Skai radio that there have been cases of patients cancelling their chemotherapy because they could not afford to continue the treatment.

The head of the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), Gerasimos Voudouris, said that cancer patients who cannot find their drugs should go to the IKA social security fund?s oncological department in at 4 Asopiou Street in Gyzi. He said they would receive their medicines within 48 hours of submitting a request.

Pharmacists are refusing to supply medicines to people insured with EOPYY because of outstanding bills. However, EOPYY is also in arrears with regard to payments to public hospitals. Voudouris told Kathimerini on Thursday that he hopes to release up to 80 million euros, to cover the care provided in January, within the next few days.

EOPYY, formed after several social insurance funds were merged last year, had its state funding cut by 500 million euros this year but is also being hurt by a drop in social security contributions, which were due to cover 4.5 billion euros of the 5.5 billion of its total funding. So far, EOPYY has only received 1.5 billion euros.

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