Parallel exports harming medicine supply

Pharmacies are running out of basic medicines as wholesalers appear to be keeping a tight lid on supplies, leading to shortages in popular painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as antibiotics, insulin and vaccinations.

According to the head of the Association of Greek Pharmacists, Constantinos Lourandos, the problem stems from manufacturers being wary of wholesalers profiteering by reselling shipments to other countries at a higher price rather than supplying the local market.

There are more problems on the wholesale level, Lourandos said.

“Certain companies force us to purchase other medicines together with the ones we need or they don’t complete the order,” he told Kathimerini.

According to data compiled by the association, parallel exports were worth 1.4 billion euros in 2009, dropping to 310 million euros last year.

Lourandos also said that pharmacists are increasingly reaching out to colleagues for medicines required by their customers, forming exchange networks and setting up a Facebook page where they advertise the needs.

“There are a lot of shortages and these are increasing,” one Athenian pharmacist, who did not want to be named, told Kathimerini. “I need 70-80 anticoagulant shots every month and rarely see more than 30.”

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