Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

Merck stops cancer drug supply to Greek hospitals

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

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

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"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.

Power to the patient

Doctors, it is said, are not what can be called early adopters of new technologies. Any healthcare revolution, then, will have to come through patients. Or rather, consumers, because patients of the 21st century make their own decisions.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

News in Brief

  1. Ukraine eyes end of EU gas transit from 2024
  2. France says ready to talk about migrants if UK serious
  3. Latvia calls for permanent US troops to guard against Russia
  4. OPCW members urge Russia to come clean on Navalny
  5. Japan bars foreign arrivals as omicron spreads
  6. US to expel 54 more Russian diplomats, Moscow says
  7. Chinese president promises Africa one billion Covid vaccines
  8. Andersson elected as Swedish PM for second time in one week

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  2. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says
  3. Pesticides 'cost double the amount they yield', study finds
  4. Scholz's first job? Work with Poland on Belarus crisis
  5. Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?
  6. Consultancies pocketing EU millions prompts MEP grilling
  7. Russian mercenaries using EU-trained soldiers in Africa
  8. EUobserver wins right to keep VIP-jet story online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us