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Outrage in Greece: Health minister says “3 in 4 drugs for cancer patients are not necessary”

Greece’s Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis triggered an outrage and an uproar over the weekend after he told a meeting with representatives of the pharma industry that “3 in 4 prescription medicines for cancer are not necessary for the patients.”

He added that “drugs prescribed by doctors for cancer patients should be approved by special oncology boards to be established in hospitals.”

On social media Greeks cursed and swore at him, recalling his professional past as book and “healing” nano-vests seller on a small TV channel or the institute he established together with his wife to teach ancient Greek to humans and to dogs!

It was not the first time that Georgiadis targeted cancer patients and the first was in 2013 under Samaras government when he tried to limit access of oncology patients to Emergency Services of public hospitals saying this could happen “only if they were in terminal stage.” His plan was never implemented due to uproar.

As the minister keeps provoking the society and especially the vulnerable ones by dismantling the public hospitals system (ESY), by charging extra fees for prescription drugs and diagnostic checks (3 euros as of April 1) or increasing the self participation for generics drugs, and cutting the import of very expensive medicines, it was expected that he himself would become the target of anger and outrage lots of ironic comments.

Image“Here is the council that will approve the anti-cancer drugs” via @bir1a1

“From bookseller to oncology expert” many commented on social media, while others wished him “multiple and incurable cancer.”

Georgiadis tried twice to clarify what he said and what he meant without lots of success.

On Sunday, he leaked to the press a confusing text that he referred to prescription drugs not approved yet by the European Authorities adding in the end that Greece should be a hub of pharma companies making clinical trials in the country.

This statement was understood as an attempt to stop innovative medication in the country under the pretext of the high cost for the Greek state. a few years ago, it was a New Democracy MP who had said that “therapy for cancer patients is very expensive.”

On Monday morning,  Georgiadis told Action 24 TV that it was “the Union of Oncologists that has asked us to activate the oncology councils, that is to check whether or not a drug is properly prescribed, does that mean that we politicians, the minister in this case, is cutting the drugs?”

Medicines are not to be cut, what needs to be prescribed will be prescribed and what needs to be given will be given. So, for any patient who needs to take a drug, we don’t stop it”, the minister noted.

With reference to Georgiadis’ statement on Saturday at an event for the investments of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Industry in Tripoli, Peloponnese, and the request of the Hellenic Society of Oncological Pathologists of Greece, regarding the immediate operation of Oncology Boards in hospitals with the aim of better control, the minister clarified :

“Officially the scientific community of doctors say that there should be a greater control over the prescription of some very expensive drugs, because in many cases in their opinion the drugs that are prescribed should not be prescribed, this has nothing to do with me. I repeat, as long as I am the Minister of Health, medicine for a patient who needs it will never be cut off for any reason.”

He did not clarify whether the oncology boards will be activated only in public hospitals or in private hospitals as well.

Association of Oncologists in Greece

However, in a statement issued today, the Association of Oncologists of Greece (EOPE) pointed out, among others, that the use of anti-cancer prescription medicines by medical oncologists is done in a rational way.

According to the statement:

1. Oncology councils are international and Greek practice and a necessity for the optimal treatment of oncology patients. They must be strengthened and supported organizationally by hospital administrations, activated where they have not yet been activated, and implemented for all cancer patients.

2. EOPE considers that the use of oncological drugs by oncologists is done in a rational way, for the optimal treatment of our patients and in application of the international and Greek guidelines and treatment protocols, as published and validated by the State.

However, it is a constant request of our Association to establish therapeutic protocols and their implementation both at the level of prescription (IDIKA) and compensation (EOPYY), a direction towards which we are moving in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and all competent institutional bodies.

3. The access of oncology patients to all established and innovative treatments is non-negotiable and EOPE, in cooperation with the competent institutional bodies, as it has been repeatedly stated, is the guardian of the best oncology care in our country with the overall clinical benefit as the main goal the patients.

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  1. I despise this man,he said something similar when he was health minister a few years ago!!

  2. As a politician and minister,, surely Georgiadis could make his statements in a clear and unequivocal way.
    Clearly his time as a bookseller did not include reading to expand his mind and vocabulary.
    Time for you to go, you dodo.

  3. I had two times cancer.I wish this extreme right bas…. gets it five times.