[Ip-health] Merck stops cancer drug supply to Greek hospitals

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 13:26:40 PST 2012

[Welcome to Africa?]

Merck stops cancer drug supply to Greek hospitals

Today @ 09:28

BRUSSELS - German drug company Merck has halted life-saving cancer drug 
shipments to Greek public hospitals.


The pharmaceutical industry says it has contributed billions to 
crisis-hit EU countries (Photo: www.freeimages.co.uk)

Its chief financial officer, Matthias Zachert told German paper 
Boersen-Zeitung on Saturday (3 November) that the crisis-struck country 
has not paid its bills.\"It only affects Greece, where we have been 
faced with many problems. It's just the one product," he said.

Reuters reports that the cancer-fighting drug is called Erbitux. While 
the medication will no longer be available at public hospitals, Greeks 
can still purchase it directly from pharmacies.

The drug fights colorectal cancer and head and neck cancer and is 
Merck's second best-selling product. In 2011, it generated some €855 
million in profits.

The Merck Group reported total revenue €2.8 billion in the second 
quarter of 2012, an 11.6 percent increase on quarter two last year.

An report in August by GlobalData, a market intelligence analysis group, 
said that pharmacies in Greece have dropped prices so that cash-strapped 
citizens can pay for them.

It added that the cheaper drugs have created a "lucrative export carry 
trade" for Greeks re-selling them over the border.

For its part, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries 
(Efpia), a Brussels-based trade body, on Sunday sent a letter to the 
Greek government with a plan to maintain drug supplies in light of its 
near-empty state coffers.

Efpia's text - seen by Reuters - says international drug companies would 
be willing to ship supplies to Greece if the government caps outpatient 
pharmaceutical expenditure at €2.9 billion in 2012.

The news agency says Efpia wants the Greek government to pay off its 
overdue bills and maintain a balanced sheet.

"Setting a growth cap or budget ceiling is not something we have ever 
liked to do in the past, but in the current environment it is better to 
do that and have some stability," Richard Bergstrom, Efpia's director 
general, told Reuters.

Efpia says Europe's pharmaceutical industry has contributed some €7 
billion in the form of rebates and discounts between 2010 and 2011 to 
Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The figure represents around 8 percent of the industry's annual turnover 
in those markets.

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