Reuters reported that crisis-stricken Greece owes a total of 1.2 billion euros to multinational pharmaceutical companies, according to the statement of a senior executive in the global pharmaceutical industry.
“The rising unpaid bill reflects the growing struggle by the nearly bankrupt country to muster cash, and creates a dilemma for companies under moral pressure not to cut off supplies of life-saving medicines,” noted Ben Hirschler.
Richard Bergstrom, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations director general told the agency that the companies — members of the organization — have not received any money from Greece since December 2014. In fact, they are owed money by Greek hospitals, as well as EOPYY, one of the state health insurance services.
According to Reuters, pharmaceutical industry representatives and European officials are discussing their options in case of a Greek bankruptcy or a Grexit, which is expected to disrupt the import of vital goods, including medicines.
“We have started a conversation in Brussels with the European Commission. We want the Commission to know that our companies are in this for the long run and are committed to Greece,” Bergstrom said
However, the agency noted that in the past the pharmaceutical industry had agreed to exceptional medicine supply measures, for example in Argentina during the crisis of 2002, when some firms agreed to continue to supply drugs to the country for a certain period of time without being paid.
“But the situation is complicated in Europe, given EU competition rules. They mean the Commission would need to take the initiative in approving any special scheme.”
Furthermore, the agency also added that the pharmaceutical manufacturers wish to implement an emergency program that includes steps to mitigate the Greek crisis consequences to other markets, “including curbs on re-exports of drugs and a block on other governments referencing Greek prices when setting their own drug prices.”