Greek police have arrested 21 people including doctors, nurses and pharmacists involved in a racket to steal cancer medicines from a public hospital and sell them abroad.
The accused were taken to a prosecutor on Friday on felony charges of embezzlement, forged prescriptions and fraud.
According to police, the ring had four leaders and 17 core members; suspect transport companies were also involved.
The ring consisted of private doctors who collaborated with colleagues and nurses in a large public hospital to steal expensive cancer drugs worth €1,000 – €6,000 ($1,120- $7,180) paid for by the Greek state.
Another method to get expensive medicines was by writing illegal prescriptions for non-cancer patients who were presented as being in the final stages of the disease, a collaboration between private physicians and pharmacists.
In other cases, doctors prescribed three drugs to a patient and kept one for the crime ring. They also prescribed medicines to people who had died of cancer.
The expensive drugs were then sold at higher prices on the black market in Scandinavia, Italy, Germany and France. Police say that a €6,000 of medicine was sold for €15,000 in one Scandinavian country.
According to police, one of the chiefs had a company in the Middle East through which the ring had a legal front for their illegal activities.
Police found large amounts of money and big quantities of cancer drugs amounting to a total of €200,000 in the homes of the defendants. They also found virtual invoices and prescriptions in drugstores and invoices in a transport company.
After examining the codes of the pharmaceuticals, investigators consider the possibility that the ring was stealing drugs from another public hospital as well.