February 8, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Generic medicines for children available without price increase, health minister says

Generic drugs with the same therapeutic value are fully available to children, Health Minister Thanos Pleuris said on Wednesday, seeking to reassure parents about the shortage of medical supplies, especially inhalers and syrups.

At a press conference, the Minister of Health said: “I understand the concerns of parents, and I want to say that there is a full availability of medicines – not necessarily original ones, but generics, with the same therapeutic value.”

Pleuris said there has been a 25% to 30% increase in specific drugs in the past few months due to a significantly higher number of infections. The main shortages have been reported in anti-fever drugs, antibiotics and for lung diseases, especially inhalers and syrups, as well as medicines for children, he said. Distribution and accessibility will improve after the holidays, without “an economic burden on citizens,” Pleuris said.

He reiterated observations during a Monday-chaired meeting with pharmaceutical importers, manufacturers, agencies, etc. that Greece was not facing the same shortages as other countries such as the US, Germany and Italy, thanks in part to domestic production of medicines, especially generics for those brands that are not currently on the market.

The problem was not the price, but the lack of products worldwide, and he assured the public that there was no cause for concern in the Greek market and in 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 checked for stocks and surpluses. The government, he said, will not raise prices, adding that in December prices did indeed fall by 7%. Price increases that are not related to shortages are an adjustment for very cheap medicines and are for generic medicines for which citizens do not have to pay a share, so there is no charge for them.

Statements by the Minister of Health to increase the price of medicines below 5 euros directly contradict the statements of Deputy Minister Mina Gaga the day before, Tuesday.

Nina Gaga came up with a truly ingenious solution to drug shortages: higher prices. According to the leadership of the Ministry of Health, this will scare citizens/patients from purchasing medicines and thereby eliminate the shortage. The Department of Health will raise the price of cheap over-the-counter medicines and introduce prescriptions for some medicines that have hitherto been available without a prescription and are paid solely by the patient.

“Prices will change, citizens will also pay part of the rise in price,” Gaga told Skai TV about the upcoming rise in prices for cheap medicines. “Otherwise they are not worth the effort to produce them,” Gaga cynically admitted as a solution to the dramatic drug shortage. She admitted that if drug prices rise, citizens will also have to put their hands in their pockets, since the state will not cover the entire difference. In addition, Gaga echoed Health Minister Thanos Pleuris’s statement that drug shortages “are a global phenomenon”, including due to the early onset of the flu wave.

It should be recalled that in the last couple of days Minister Pleuris accused in the following sequence:

  1. Parents buy medicines for their children “in reserve”.
  2. Doctors prescribe too many drugs.
  3. India and China as producing countries.
  4. global phenomenon.
  5. Putin is to blame … (this was stated by the prime minister, but, as we suspect, in the cabinet all ministers are obliged to think the same way on this issue).

Health websites report that the following medicines will be forcibly sold by e-prescription:

  • general antibiotics,
  • antitussives,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • antiemetic.

Mina Gaga stressed that fever medicines will not be included in the electronic prescription list, so you can buy aspirin and its derivatives freely, if, of course, they are in stock.

PS It seems that the closer to the elections, the more top officials from the New Democracy move to a permanent place of residence in a parallel world, from where they tell stunning stories.

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