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Generic drugs for children fully available, no price hikes, says Health Minister

Generic medication with the same therapeutic value is fully available for children, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said on Wednesday, seeking to reassure parents about shortages, particularly of inhalers and syrups.

In a press conference, the health minister said, “I understand parents’ concerns, and what I am saying is that there is full availability of medication – not necessarily original drugs, but generic ones with the same therapeutic value.”

Plevris said that in the last few months there was a 25% to 30% rise in specific drugs due to a significantly higher number of infections.

The major shortages were registered mostly in anti-fever medication, antibiotics, and pulmonary-related ailments, particularly in inhalers and syrups, as well as in children’s medication, he said.

Distribution and availability would improve after the holidays with “no economic burden to citizens,” he asserted.

He reiterated observations during a meeting he chaired on Monday with pharmaceuticals importers, producers, agencies and such, according to which Greece did not face the same shortages as other countries – such as the United States, Germany, and Italy, among others – thanks to domestic production of medication, particularly of  generic medication for those brands currently missing in the market.

The issue was not one of price, but of shortages in production globally, and he assured the public that there is no reason for concern in the Greek market and at hospitals in particular.

“Measures have been taken since this summer and continue to be taken,” he said, noting that 15 wholesalers and 9 multinationals have been inspected for stock and surpluses.

The government, he said, will not raise prices, and added that in December prices actually dropped by 7%.

The price hikes that are not linked to shortages, he said, are price adjustments on very cheap medication, and relate to generic drugs in which citizens do not have to pay a share, therefore they are not charged for them.

Plevris statements about price increases for drugs below 5 euro directly contradict the cynical statements by his deputy health minister Mina Gaga just a day earlier, on Tuesday.

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