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Golden pills of the pharmaceutical companies

19 October 2009 / 14:10:09  GRReporter
2124 reads

To treat ulcer you need five packets of Losec, which sells 5 million packets per year in Greece. A patient buys each one for €18.76 in comparison to the ordinary Englishman, who guys it €5 cheaper. The same happens with Risperdal, which is an epilepsy medication. In Greece it costs €57 and in Spain it costs only €6.

Those are two of the many ridiculous examples of how expensive drugs are in Greece compared to other countries in Western Europe. What happens to the prices and how are they set?

Even the latest update of the law, which was done by former minister of health Yannis Papathanasiou, will not lead to decrease of prices, because the state control, supervision and price mechanisms are not working.

Based on the law, every pharmaceutical company needs to provide its prices to the all European countries and to the Drug Prices Direction, which belongs to the old Ministry of Development and now to the Ministry of Economy, competition and shipping.

This needs to be done, so that the price for each medicine in Greece can be reviewed if it has decreased in another country. The problem is that the company does not report to the Direction, says an article in Vima newspaper. The paradox is that according to the method of setting prices, they need to decrease and in reality the opposite happens – pharmaceutical expenses burden the insurance funds and all public hospitals.

The strategy of the pharmaceutical companies is to release a new drug to the most expensive market in Europe, which up to a year ago was the British one, and after that to the less expensive market and by this they earn more money than they have to. After that they release the drug in Greece, where the price is equal to the average amount between the two most expensive market prices. Based on the law in Greece, drug prices are equal to the average amount of drug prices in the three least expensive markets but if there is no third market, then it is calculated according to its value in the two countries. And so, the drug in Greece is much more expensive. Later on the drug appears in other markets with a lower price but most of the times the pharmaceutical companies “forget” to inform the Greek Direction about this fact. 

Tags: Pharmaceutical company Losec Risperdal Drug Prices Medicine prices Epilepsy drugs
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