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Medicine Shortages: The Drag with the Greek Drugs

Significant shortages in medications have been recorded in Greece. Cheap medicines but even expensive for cancer treatment seem to have disappeared from the shelves of public (state hospitals, IKA pharmacy) and private pharmacies. 243 “commercial” drugs out of 500 are just not available. In the majority, the shortages concern antibiotics, drugs for diabetes and high blood pressure, or formula for the treatment of gastroenteritis , which in very common in times of seasonal virus infections.

Speaking to VIMA FM, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos claimed that it is mostly cheap drugs that are not available in Greece, because the companies prefer to export them and sell them to higher prices than the low prices in the Greek market. “This is illegal, of course,” Loverdos said, but he didn’t revealed whether he would take measures against.

Dimitris Karageorgiou, general secretary of the National Pharmaceutical Association, said the shortages concern medicines sold at a price of less than 10 euro. “The market expects the price to increase with the new measures announced by the Ministry of Health, and this is perhaps why the deficiencies” Karageorgiou said.

Shortage in Drugs Against Cancer

At the same time, the PanhellenicAssociation of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois” has received many complaints from patients who claim, they have not received the necessary treatment due to lack of oncology drugs at some public hospitals and the pharmacies of Greece’s biggest insurance fund IKA in Attica prefecture. On their parts, private pharmacists refuse to give prescription medicine  to the insured patients on credit. 

The Association urges the Minister of Health to provide an immediate solution to the problem, noting that cancer patients can not afford to wait for weeks or even months to receive the necessary treatment.

What We Don’t Say…

From what I hear from my friends, the breast patients’ claims are not just claims. The mother of a friend was sent home after her 6th chemotherapy without the accompanied drugs. Doctors at a public hospital told her, she wouldn’t need two more chemotherapy treatments as it was scheduled. The mother told us that the doctors said the same things to other patients. Now my friend considers to seek the Cancer Association and have them investigate whether the chemotherapy was interrupted with or without a serious medical justification. Furthermore, the mother had got injected with a different drug injected that in the previous five times. The woman who every time suffered from severe symptoms of chemotherapy, had just a nabbing feeling in her hands.

Three boxes of prescription medicine for a chronic-ill member of our family arrived almost four weeks after we gave the prescription order to the pharmacist.

The problem is not new, it started two years ago, and after a short recovery, the situation is getting worst again. Blame the austerity? Playing with patients’ lives is unacceptable!

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  1. That’s really scandalous. Nothing is done to fight corruption and inefficiency of the administration, but instead there are cuts to healthcare expenses? As if the people have magically become more healthy overnight! Voters have to demand explanations for what is happening there, and answers to their very reasonable complaints. That’s an issue that should really drive people to the street for protests!

    • keeptalkinggreece

      I think this issue slowly starts to come up. Wait until the several diseases groups will start to file complaint.

  2. Even after a day I still don’t know what to say… It’s just one of those totally unbelievable happening here around us. And people first have to die in their hundreds in the streets it seems, before anything will change for real… 🙁

  3. I’ve read today that the Health Minister plans to have Pharmacies now only give out the exact/required amount of medicines/tablets (apparently from jars)and not any extra that are not needed, which is fine – no need to over prescribe and waste medicines, providing they keep check on expiry dates on drugs in these ‘Jars’ and we only get charged for the amount we are being given, for example if I have 16 Tablets from a box of 24, then I only want to be charged for 16!

    • keeptalkinggreece

      we posted it about it today. Check: health ministry to hand out loose medicine to greek patients.

      • Hi KTG Apologies I missed the correct post for this, yes I believe it is for prescription medicines, I would still like to be sure the expiry dates are correct and only pay for what I am given i.e. part box. Giving out from Jars? I’m not sure about that – but on the other hand it could save some money on over prescribing.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      however I think it refers to prescription medicine.