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Drugs shortage in Greece drives patients ‘crazy’ amid wave of seasonal viruses

The problem of drug shortages is growing each and every day in Greece amid a wave of viruses outbreak and the threats by the Health Minister to pharmaceutical warehouses and doctors do not seem to help at all.

At a time when seasonal viruses such as the flu, the RSV and others show a huge increase in children and adults, thousands of citizens throughout the country have indulged in a “safari’ searching even simple, no-prescription drugs against fever and cough.

There is parallel a high demand for children’s medicines amid the seasonal outbreak of diseases. The prevailing situation is reflected in the fact that the pediatric clinics were full over Christmas days due to flu and coronavirus that send dozens of children to the hospital.

According to media, there is a serious shortage of antipyretics, antitussives, inhalants, analgesics, anti-cough syrups as well as antibiotics for respiratory problems.

Citizens report that pharmacists have even shared the content of a drug box between two clients in order to meet the demand.

Several people reported that pharmacies give only one package of a cheap paracetamol drug per client, others that that they have to visit a few pharmacies to find one. The 20-pill pack of drug against fever and mild to moderate pain is sold at 2 euros.

According to newspaper “Demokratia”, in shortage are basic drugs such as:


Open TV reported that the situation is getting worse since in addition to antibiotics shortages, there are also major shortages of heart, respiratory, diabetes and assisted reproduction drugs.

Health Minister Plevris threatens “They will regret it”

Health Minister Thanos Plevris confirmed on Friday the shortages, especially in pediatrics drugs and antibiotics for respiratory problems, saying that there are complaints that the parent companies (the manufacturers) are pushing their drugs where they are sold the most expensive.

“With more orders and control over the pharmaceutical industries, we are trying to solve this part,” he told Skai TV. “We have banned the export of 260 medicines and at the same time the pharmaceutical warehouses are being controlled. Anyone who keeps stock will never work in the pharmacy field again. A file will be opened at the prosecutor” he threatened.

“Those pharmacies that keep stock should declare it immediately, otherwise they will regret it. They will be taken to the criminal courts and be closed,” he added.

The lawyer who is health Minister also blamed doctors for prescribing much too many antibiotics, obviously ignoring that many seasonal viruses cause inflammation in ears or lungs especially in children.

Doctors: Health Minister is moving in the wrong direction

On its part the the Panhellenic Medical Association warned the leadership of the Health Ministry that it is “moving in the wrong direction” and cited “the serious shortages of drugs that are expected in 2023 worldwide.”

“At a time when all states are preparing the drug markets and the supply chain for rampant shortages caused by the pandemic and the reduction of production in countries such as India and China, the leadership of the Health Ministry in Greece does not give the necessary importance to the repeated warnings of the PMA, but it also moves in the opposite direction, expanding vaccinations without the necessary prescription,”, the Association stressed in a statement.

The PMA spoke of “unscientific and extremely dangerous practice as the same indications do not apply to all citizens. And of course, only the doctor is able to assess and guide patients.”

Shortages causes

According to medical news website, there are three main causes for the drugs shortages:

-There has been a recent decrease in the production of medicines at global level, which is also due to the pandemic during which there were shortages of raw materials.

-Parallel exports are one of the main reasons why pharmacy shelves are empty. The phenomenon is mainly developed by pharmacies that export Greek medicines to Europe in order to achieve better prices and thus a higher profit. The value of parallel exports can reach 600 million a year depending on the quantities exported.

-Some pharmaceutical companies supply the Greek market with reduced amounts of drugs than are necessary to cover Greek patients. That is why the Minister of Health recently came to an agreement with the sector in order to increase the quantities of preparations that are imported and are in short supply in Greece.

Checking drugs stocks and fines

Greece’s National Organization For Medicines (EOF) announced on Thursday the suspension of the drug wholesale license for two drug warehouses in Northern Greece which did not accept to submit to an inspection of their stocks. The suspension applies for a period of time until they are inspected by the EOF.

PS I suppose the government will soon release a “Pharma Pass”…

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