Greeks Panic As Drug Firms Slash Medicine Supplies By 90% On Bad Debts

Tyler Durden's picture


Greece is facing a serious shortage of medicines amid claims that pharmaceutical multinationals have halted shipments to the country because of the economic crisis and, as The Guardian reports, concerns that the drugs will be exported by middlemen because prices are higher in other European countries. Rubbing further salt into the Greek (un-medicated) wound, the Red Cross slashed its supply of donor blood to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time. Pharmacies in Greece describe chaotic scenes as clients desperately search from shop to shop for much-needed drugs. Greece's Pharmaceutical Association said "around 300 drugs are in very short supply," adding that "It's a disgrace. The companies are ensuring that they come in dribs and drabs to avoid prosecution. Everyone is really frightened." The fear for the multinationals remains that wholesalers can legally sell to other nations at higher prices and a "combination of Greece's low medicine prices and unpaid debt by the state." Lines form early and 'get very aggressive' one pharmacy exclaimed, "We have reached a tragic point."

Via The Guardian,

Greece is facing a serious shortage of medicines amid claims that pharmaceutical multinationals have halted shipments to the country because of the economic crisis and concerns that the drugs will be exported by middlemen because prices are higher in other European countries.


Hundreds of drugs are in short supply and the situation is getting worse, according to the Greek drug regulator. The government has drawn up a list of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies it accuses of halting or planning to halt supplies because of low prices in the country.




Separately, it was announced on Tuesday that the Swiss Red Cross was slashing its supply of donor blood to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time.


Chemists in Athens describe chaotic scenes with desperate customers going from pharmacy to pharmacy to look for prescription drugs that hospitals could no longer dispense.




"Companies are ceasing these supplies because Greece is not profitable for them and they are worried that their products will be exported by traders to other richer countries through parallel trade as Greece has the lowest medicine prices in Europe," said Professor Yannis Tountas, the president of the Greek drug regulator, the National Organisation for Medicines.




The body representing pharmacists, the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association, confirmed the shortages. "I would say supplies are down by 90%," said Dimitris Karageorgiou, its secretary general. "The companies are ensuring that they come in dribs and drabs to avoid prosecution. Everyone is really frightened. Customers tell me they are afraid [about] losing access to medication altogether." He said many also worried insurance coverage would dry up.


"Around 300 drugs are in very short supply and they include innovative drugs, medications for cancer patients and people suffering from clinical depression," said Karageorgiou. "It's a disgrace. The government is panic-stricken and the multinationals only think about themselves and the issue of parallel trade because wholesalers can legally sell them to other European nations at a higher price."




"the reasons being a combination of Greece's low medicine prices and unpaid debt by the state", he said.



"Lines will form in the early morning or late at night when you're on duty," said Karageorgiou, who is based in Thessaloniki. "And when the drugs aren't available, which is often the case, people get very aggressive. I'm on duty tonight and know there will be screaming and shouting but in the circumstances I also understand. We have reached a tragic point."


Greece's social insurance funds and hospitals owe pharmaceutical companies about €1.9bn (£1.6bn), a debt going back to 2011, with companies expecting payments of €500m this month.


Some companies admitted they were not supplying some medicines.




The pharmaceutical industry says many shortages are because of products being exported through parallel trade, and has urged the government to address set drug prices. Under EU trade rules, the free movement of goods is allowed. So for example, while a pharmaceutical company may sell a medicine to a wholesaler or pharmacist in Greece, the wholesaler or pharmacist can sell these medicines on to wholesalers in other countries. Parallel traders do this to make money on the price differences between countries.


"The government needs to correct these wrong prices to avoid a surge of exportation. Greece's drug prices are 20% or more lower than the lowest prices in Europe," said Konstantinos, who is also the general manager of Novartis in Greece.



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Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:13 | 3286240 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Don't disagree with your tenor, but... Until I see more than folklore on the effectiveness of CS against serious infections (real, not 'sponsored' studies please!), I'll stick to having some of both.  And I'll cycle the pharma inventory as required.  Just to manage risk, since I am not a dogmatic or B&W kind of thinker.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:59 | 3287194 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Yep, all the millions walking around without thyroids thanks to MTC and PTC should really get off their lazy asses and find some way to stop being so dependent on big-pharma. Buncha idiots!

You're being just a wee-bit simple-minded and it's not flattering to your intelligence. Such people will die within no more than a few months and there is not jack and/or shit any supplement or holistic bullshit can do about it. Wishing does not make it so.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:42 | 3285807 WillyGroper
WillyGroper's picture

Speaking of preppers. While looking for a course at a vo-tech yesterday, they literally had courses on just that. About 6 of them. Gun safety & concealed permit certification.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:54 | 3286455 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

If you are a prepper, this is why meds are at the top of your list, right under water source

Or, here's an idea - live your life so you minimize or eliminate your need for prescription drugs. Most drugs are either unneccesary (acid reflux, cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, ADHD, etc.) or can be reduced or eliminated through lifestyle changes.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:07 | 3287226 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

I'm glad you're not my doctor, or a doctor at all. I'll use the acid reflux example. Severe acid reflux is a debilitating disease. Untreated it can lead to esophageal cancer, which will kill you if not treated. For mild acid reflux you can take calcium carbonate or bismuth subsalicylate or sodium bicarbonate-potassium bicarbonate-anhydrous citric acid, which can be stockpiled, but which it is possible to OD on - and destroy your stomach.

The ignorance of genetic and epigenetic pathology on ZH is astounding.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 17:52 | 3287759 WillyGroper
WillyGroper's picture

You're stuck in the medical matix. Try HCI in the middle of ur meal. Acid reflux is do to too little acid & lack of digestive enzymes. Eating raw foods helps. Eating a bit of raw potato everyday will help build up the mucosa that's been destroyed by the reflux. Otherwise it just progresses. 

Gave some to a friend that suffers from it & has a hiatal hernia also. Bi-carb of soda also helps & is a whole lot cheaper. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:27 | 3285483 Eireann go Brach
Eireann go Brach's picture

Krugman just tweeted this was bullish for Greece recovery!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:30 | 3285503 philipat
philipat's picture

Print more drugs quickly.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:28 | 3285494 I need more cowbell
I need more cowbell's picture

I do feel sorry for the people who need certain very beneficial drugs; albuterol for asthma comes to mind. The side benefit though will be all the people who can't get most drugs that are truly unnecessary. Hope that word filters out with time.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:58 | 3285617 CH1
CH1's picture

This is THE TIME to get into the smuggling biz between Greece, Cyprus, etc.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:08 | 3286258 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Long G&A or Swords & Spears.  If the Greeks still know how to use any of these.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:14 | 3287262 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Uh, referring to drugs which manage a condition, unless these very poor people suddenly and radically change their lifestyles (in ways they cannot afford to), those conditions will simply get worse.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:31 | 3286366 Ruffcut
Ruffcut's picture

Fuck the drug/poison business.

And the blood? I give for free and they sell it for big bucks. Scam fuckers.

Let the greeks give their own blood?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:22 | 3285459 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

Wow, the price of Valium has had to quintuple on the streets of Athens.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:04 | 3285637 BurningFuld
BurningFuld's picture

Generic Valium is about $20 per 5000 tablets FYI.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:23 | 3285462 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

What good is it doing Greece to be on the Euro at this point? How much worse can it get for them?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:25 | 3285474 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



The 300 must be rolling in their graves.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:35 | 3285524 Escapedgoat
Escapedgoat's picture

And the current ones in the WhoreHouse (Vouli) are expected  to Join them any moment soon. By hanging

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:03 | 3285633 herpderp
herpderp's picture

This is madness.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:32 | 3285775 Kaiser Sousa
Kaiser Sousa's picture

based on the amount of courage these current Greeks have shown im beginning to believe that the "300" was a myth...

just sayin Greek people..... 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:17 | 3287280 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Time for a history lesson, the Spartans were totalitarians the likes of which are unequalled in human history. If they're rolling their graves, it's because Greece is infinitely more free and liberal and tolerant than they would ever have tolerated.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:30 | 3285501 KidHorn
KidHorn's picture

I agree. The problem is Geece holds a lot of German Euro debt and the day greece leaves the euro is the day the German banks realize a lot of losses.

My hunch is the gov't knows this and it's only a matter of time they get another bailout.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:28 | 3286350 Professor Fate
Professor Fate's picture

Exactly!.  And to smooth the transition from Euro to Drachma, I say we send over the legendary economic transitioning team, the Kruganke twins, Ben and Paul...on the condition that they never send them back.

Fate the Magnificent

"Push the Button Max" 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:23 | 3285463 jeff314
jeff314's picture

But they have turn the corner right?????

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:29 | 3285498 Cdad
Cdad's picture are we back to Greece being NOT fixed?  Or is it fixed, but fixed like Italy?  And how does Spain fit in again...other than right next to Portugal...whose debt just went parabolic...after a few months ago being lauded for its austerity?

Can someone put out a flow chart on this fixed/not fixed I am having a hard time following the TRUTH of the matter, what with the global oligarchy bending the MSM over day after day, and using it as an instant messaging system to the uninformed.


Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:23 | 3285464 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

That which cannot be sustained, won't be.  Here's looking at you Mr./Mrs. baby boomer.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:31 | 3285507 H E D G E H O G
H E D G E H O G's picture

I'm a "Boomer".  ALL my meds are illicit and illegal. Thank God the the 30 year War on Drugs is working out so great.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:33 | 3285516 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

I know many boomers who "grow" their own meds.  Imagine that, an individual centered solution.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:20 | 3287300 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Imagine that, the generation which gave us the War on Drugs was a bunch of f'in hypocrites who wish to apply a double-standard (and they still vote as a block against decriminalization/legalization, shocking). Whocouldanode?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 18:32 | 3287911 H E D G E H O G
H E D G E H O G's picture

I hope you're not lumping ME in that "bunch of fucking hypocrites" statement, because I, for one, have ALWAYS subscribed to the ideal of Live, and Let Live. What someone, anyone wants to do with their life is their OWN business, as long as it doesn't infringe on MY fucking right to do the same.  The decriminalization of pot, would go a long way in relieving the stress and overwhelming cost this world faces, besides just doing the right thing, ie., illegal herb vs. legal alcohol. The taxes gleaned from legal pot would give a hefty shot in the arm of OUR ailing country. Besides, it would definitely subdue the rage we are seeing today from all of the people losing against the system. Fuck it, why waste my breath. Color me High, Armed, and Happy.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:51 | 3285841 WillyGroper
WillyGroper's picture

Time won't be waiting for you either.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:23 | 3285467 Unprepared
Unprepared's picture

"What, me worry?"

A Greek proverb

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:25 | 3285473 GubbermintWorker
GubbermintWorker's picture

It is??

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:26 | 3285470 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture
The Money Masters say unto the people of the world, whose "democratic, sovereign governments" have sold them out to the highest paying private fractional fiat issuing banking cartel, you will give us our pound of flesh and tribute, or you & your loved ones won't get essential medications.

"We already own your representatives, regulators, judges & infrastructure, bitchez."

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:29 | 3285481 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

hemp is easy to grow... so is poppy... [just watch out for the drones whicj will be sent to kill you for cutting in on their profits]...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:31 | 3285506 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

But the Choomwagoneers-In-Chief around the world will only allow for roundup ready, GMO seed to be legally planted, with massive criminal and financial penalties for defying the Monsanto, Carghill, et al OverLords.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:41 | 3285547 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Molon Labe

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:59 | 3285621 gaoptimize
gaoptimize's picture

This will become a large liberty issue soon enough as boomers have a lot of votes.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:05 | 3285642 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Cue Monsanto "Round Up Spraying Drone Fleet" to initiate litigation against farmers whose crops have been cross-pollinated with Monsanto GMO-seed via the wind from nearby Monsanto-planted fields.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:25 | 3285747 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

When is Monsanto coming out with "Irradiation Roundup"?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:25 | 3285748 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

When is Monsanto coming out with "Irradiation Roundup"?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:20 | 3285728 DOT
DOT's picture

All papavers contain opioids and many varieties and colors are available for your garden. Local plantsmen and nurseries will to glad to sell you a few nice specimen plants. Grow cannabis and maybe a drone will fly up your ass.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:27 | 3285754 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Maybe they'll find some monkeys up there...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:26 | 3285477 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Weird, I was talking about this drug/hospital situation just a few days ago with my friend... he didn't believe me...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:32 | 3285510 astoriajoe
astoriajoe's picture

I remember reading one article that says if you have a broken bone, the doctors can set it for you, provided you procure the plaster for the cast.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:35 | 3285523 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Another article said hospitals forced patients to clean their own room/bathroom because they didn't have the money to hire/pay staff to do it.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:27 | 3285484 Big Corked Boots
Big Corked Boots's picture

I don't think they have this problem in Iceland.

How long is this BS going to go on?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:31 | 3285505 Jorgen
Jorgen's picture

Great business opportunity for Chinese, Indian and Russian pharma companies. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:50 | 3285525 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Until the war starts, or some bankers start getting hung from bridges. My guess is the former comes first.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:28 | 3285488 HD
HD's picture

Wow. You actually have to pay the Red Cross blood money...

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