Bad medicine slips through net

Tens of thousands of boxes containing various medicines have been distributed in Greece over the last decade filled with drugs that were not fit for consumption and even posed a threat to public health, according to the results of a study conducted by the Athens Medical School. The research, prepared by the Athens Medical School’s Experimental Laboratory of Pharmacology and seen by Sunday’s Kathimerini, showed that the unsuitable drugs had either been imported into Greece or produced locally and passed on to patients without being checked. The Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) is responsible for keeping an eye on the quality of medicines. However, staff cutbacks have hindered EOF’s ability to implement control measures, its president Dimitris Vagionas told Kathimerini. Industry experts said that a number of pharmaceutical companies are cutting corners in the quality control measures that can make up 10 to 20 percent of the final cost of a product. Ioannis Papadopoulos, an Athens Medical School professor, said that the quality of EOF checks is satisfactory but that the number of inspections is low. «If we are to take into account the large number of medicines recalled every year, we can conclude that many medicines very dangerous to public health are being distributed at the moment in the market,» he said. «When we mean dangerous we mean that they give no relief to the patient or may harm a patient rather than doing him good,» he added. Between 1995-2005, EOF has recalled 256 batches of medicines for different reasons ranging from hair and fungus being found in the drug to the incorrect quantity being included in the packet. Each batch may have contents ranging from 3,000 boxes to several tens of thousands. «The recall (of medicines) takes place across the world but not in the same numbers and quantities we see in Greece. This means that something is not right,» said Haris Liapis, from the Athens Medical School.

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