Thatcherism in Greece threatens health

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From daily The Morning Star in England:

Medicine gets too pricey for Greece’s ill

Wednesday 06 June 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Greece‘s diabetes association warned on Tuesday that thousands of lives are at risk after pharmacies cut credit to state health insurer EOPYY, leaving many unable to pay for medication.

The pharmacists complain that EOPPY has failed to pay them more than €750 million (£600m) for selling medication at a subsidised rate, adding to debts of €250m (£200m) from last year.

A series of meetings between government officials and pharmacists have failed to resolve a two-week stand-off.

The credit freeze means that members of the EOPYY fund – more than nine million of the country’s 11 million people – must now pay the full cost of their medication, which the fund normally subsidises by an average 75 per cent.

“Everyone involved in the dispute must realise that the true victims are those who suffer on a daily basis, as their life depends on taking their medication,” Greece’s diabetics federation said.

It emphasised that the fight over medicine bills is placing its members’ life in danger.

Pharmacists – who complain that the government refuses to offset EOPYY’s debts against their tax dues – cut off credit to the fund last month.

Health ministry officials on Monday struck a deal with pharmaceutical companies to continue supplying cancer patients with subsidised life-saving medication, through hospitals and a tiny number of pharmacies run by EOPYY.

The economic crisis is leading to shortages in vital drugs.

Head of the pharmacies’ association in the Attica region Kostas Lourantos warned: “Pharmaceutical companies are no longer interested in selling to Greece where hospitals and pharmacies are in debt.”

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