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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 - 10:54 | 3285600 W74
W74's picture

I smell a HUGE opportunity brewing in black market pharmaceuticals and over the counter drugs if one has access to them.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:21 | 3285732 BurningFuld
BurningFuld's picture

You will have one small problem. The Greeks will stiff you when it comes to paying.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:54 | 3285601 youngman
youngman's picture

supplies down 90 %...that is a a shortage...well the Greeks are going to learn Econ 101..you have to PAY for your order...before they deliver....cash or PM´s please....no more the checks in the mail....pure capitalism at its finest...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:56 | 3285610 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

When we get around to stringing up these bastards, the boys from Big Pharma should got to the front of the line.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:00 | 3285622 caimen garou
caimen garou's picture

no money, no honey! or in this case no blood! this is  the world we live in!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:03 | 3285635 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Well, at some point the real culling has to start, right? How else do we get to an equitable global standard of living? Those left can be served by robots instead of smelly, ungrateful, brown people.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:24 | 3285741 SamAdams1234
SamAdams1234's picture

War is hope.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:38 | 3285797 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Sometimes, war is the only hope... Greece is about there right now... the only thing that will change things in Greece is a revolution and LOTS of hangings.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:09 | 3285673 Shevva
Shevva's picture

SO the answer is to push the prices of medicine up 20% in Greece so the fucktards don't sell it to other countries? Good place the EUSSR ain't it.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:18 | 3285714 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

The collectivists want to make an example of the birthplace of democracy.  The Greeks should murder their government for going along with it.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:14 | 3285697 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Greece: The next Ethiopia. US: the next Greece, followed by the next Ethipia.  You have to be a real idiot to not understand why the criminals in the US want your guns.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:03 | 3286229 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

US will be more like Somalia.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:17 | 3285709 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

This is what happens when bankers convince themselves their paper is the same as gold.  The paper keeps losing purchasing power even as it doesn't circulate.  You can't rely on savings because you saved worthless paper.  You can't get a job because you are forced to use worthless paper while the government and bankers are keeping it from circulating.  You are stuck with rapidly depreciating paper and you still can't get any of it.  At least if they had saved in gold, they could make it through this nonsense.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:22 | 3285733 SokPOTUS
SokPOTUS's picture

Pfft.  If the Pharma's could sell the Greeks the meds at the same prices that rip off U S Citizens for; they'd be flooding Greece with Junk...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:28 | 3285759 Fuh Querada
Fuh Querada's picture

The article is correct. I purchased a patented prescription medicine in Germany a few weeks ago and it was a repackaged Greek "parallel import". The foils containing the tablets had Greek letters on them but they were repackaged into a carton with German language including the insert.

It was not stated in he post where the Greek Elite get their medications if there are none in the pharmacies. Presumably direct purchase flown in from Germany or Italy. They must have their own private clinics also.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:34 | 3285784 Volaille de Bresse
Volaille de Bresse's picture

""The problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other peoples money" - M Thatcher"

 

Works fine with the current banking system too, Magpie!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:35 | 3285787 DOT
DOT's picture

Greeks know you never ever front the cash in a drug deal. Pharma is just now catching on about the hand off.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:52 | 3285847 semperfi
semperfi's picture

"Red Cross slashed its supply of donor blood to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time."

now that's some real BLOOD MONEY

and this soon coming to a pharmacy/hospital near you courtesy of KenyanMarxistThugCare

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:53 | 3285848 badgerpup
badgerpup's picture

Same situation coming to the United Snakes soon enough. You will be buying all necessities on the black market before long, as the Bilderbums deconstruct the world economy. Make sure you have adequate medications and adequate barter stores as well as solid community resources. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:56 | 3285863 americanspirit
americanspirit's picture

After WWII American GIs used to trade cigarettes and nylons with German women in exchange for sex. Now German tourists can go to Greece and trade a few antibiotics for sex. Or, being very kinky Germans, they might trade a few cancer drugs for something really different.

What a wonderful world. Of course, for those clever drug-trading sun & fun-seeking Germans, getting out of Greece alive afterwards might be a little problem.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:41 | 3287430 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

"After WWII American GIs used to trade cigarettes and nylons with German women in exchange for sex."

Better deal than the Russians gave them.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:57 | 3285869 Snoopy the Economist
Snoopy the Economist's picture

"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,"

I imagine soon that the price of medicine in Greece will soon be the highest in Europe due to supply/demand.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 11:57 | 3285872 badgerpup
badgerpup's picture

Same situation coming to the United Snakes soon enough. You will be buying all necessities on the black market before long, as the Bilderbums deconstruct the world economy. Make sure you have adequate medications and adequate barter stores as well as solid community resources. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:17 | 3286935 snblitz
snblitz's picture

The black market is surprisingly diverse in the US.  It is best to get started early so you have some experience under your belt.  Otherwise you can be taken in that market too.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:07 | 3285916 q99x2
q99x2's picture

This is not good.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:17 | 3285967 Oldrepublic
Oldrepublic's picture

 

 a reader named Cigars wrote this in the comment section of the Guardian article, I quote in full

 I read that the issue is a drug shortage.

The causes of this shortage are as follows:

1) Greece has government set prices that are at least 20% below any other country in the EU. (failed social experiment with anti market set pricing).

2) Greek government hospitals do not pay their bills.

3) EU is one market and these drugs can be sent from Greece to other countries.

Reaction:

a) Hundreds of Greek middlemen buy the drugs at set Greek government rates and then sell them in other countries at higher rates.

b) These men and women are undercutting the manufacturers in other markets by over ordering drugs at a government enforce price and selling them wherever they can for a higher price.

c) Drug companies are not happy. They tolerated set below market government enforced pricing for a long time. Their bills are not being by the hospitals. the only drugs being sent to Greece that they are being paid for are undercutting the drug companies in other markets. basically they are selling at a loss and then the drugs are being used to cut into their sales elsewhere.

This is not a problem with capitalism. This is a problem caused by Greece setting prices and then letting their middlemen undercut and reexport drugs to other countries and the hospitals are not paying their bills. Drug companies have started to restrict supply.

Solution: Release the set pricing and let it rise to a higher level in tune with EU standards. Middlemen lose their competitive advantage and stop undercutting the Drug companies in other EU markets. Secondary solution is to pay the bills for the drugs the hospitals bought.

If it was not for capitalism, the drug companies would not have spent billions, researching and testing medications. If it was not for the failures of Greek Socialism, all these drugs would be accessible to the Greek population.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:05 | 3286239 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

These are good capitalists. The problem is the Greek government statism, not people finding ways to survive by doing that...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:21 | 3285979 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

The Greeks need to end this Cycle.  Now.  Until now they have opted to resist passively by trying to "starve the beast". That was/is not enough, it appears -- judging by this article.  They need to get out of the Euro - now! -- and hit the national RESET button.  Ditto for Spain.  Let the Euro chips fall where they may. 

Both counties can and will recover with their own currency, where true Price Discovery is once again possible.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:52 | 3286175 Suisse
Suisse's picture

I would like to buy part of a Greek Island, they need to hurry up and reset.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:28 | 3286027 Sig
Sig's picture

The Real Life parallels to Atlas Shrugged are multiplying.  Say what you will about Ayn Rand, but she nailed it.  Bureaucrats everywhere talking about "need", villainizing businesspeople for the audacity to expect payment.  Expecting them to deliver while being kicked repeatedly in the nuts.

Even the people who hate Rand should give her credit for the foresight.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:07 | 3286248 Oldrepublic
Oldrepublic's picture

Those Greek middlemen reselling drugs abroad reminds me of the film  noir, The Third Man And the character of the American criminal  whose racket was stealing penicillin from  hospitals, diluting it, and selling it on the  black market  leading to many deaths in postwar Vienna

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:09 | 3286259 Crash Overide
Crash Overide's picture

And so it begins...  Here come the zombies.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:27 | 3286357 TNTARG
TNTARG's picture

Bankster's, Troika's, European burocrats', Draghi's crimes against humanity.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:50 | 3286434 Nehweh Gahnin
Nehweh Gahnin's picture

microcosm [?ma?kr???k?z?m]microcosmos [?ma?kr???k?zm?s] n
1. a miniature representation of something, esp a unit, group, or place regarded as a copy of a larger one 2. (Philosophy) man regarded as epitomizing the universe Compare macrocosm
[via Medieval Latin from Greek mikros kosmos little world] microcosmic , microcosmical adj http://www.thefreedictionary.com/microcosm I love that the word's root is Greek.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:22 | 3286963 TheOldMan
TheOldMan's picture

"...It's a disgrace. The government is panic-stricken and the multinationals only think about themselves..." No actually the multis are thinking about how to pay their employees and suppliers.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:31 | 3287375 Onohymagin
Onohymagin's picture

Bali, Ah those delicious methanol cocktails. Enjoy your sight while you still can see.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 20:02 | 3288260 TNTARG
TNTARG's picture

The Uncomfortable Truth.

In Greece, the interests of the people have been subordinated to the interests of profitmaking industries and their shareholders. Capital rules. The MOU turns the basic principal of representative government on its head.

"THE MEMORANDUM: A death warrant for Greece

In February 2012, Greek parliamentarians signed the nation’s death warrant by ratifying the heinous “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU), a document that effectively repeals Greek sovereignty and hands the nation over to foreign banks and corporations. The 43-page edict imposes strict rules on everything from reduced spending on life-saving drugs to “lifting constraints for retailers to sell restricted product categories such as baby food.”

The MOU calls for a 10 percent cuts to government workers wages, cuts to “social security funds and hospitals”, and more privatizing of publicly-owned assets, all of which has further shrunk GDP. Ratherpath for Greece to exit its present slump, the Memorandum curtails public spending while creating new opportunities for exploitation and plunder. Here’s an excerpt from the MOU:

“The Government stands ready to offer for sale its remaining stakes in state-owned enterprises, if necessary in order to reach the privatisation objectives. Public control will be limited only to cases of critical network infrastructure.”

Public assets are being sold for pennies on the dollar to foreign corporations and entrepreneurs. Then there’s this:

“The Government will neither propose nor implement measures which may infringe the rules on the free movement of capital.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/26/the-greek-economy-is-kaput/

 

 

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