Monday, June 30, 2008

Parallel trade in drugs puts EU patients at risk

From the Guardian (UK):
If you suffer from epilepsy and you live in Athens you are less likely to receive the vital drugs you need for treatment than if you live in London, Berlin or Amsterdam. And, says Konstantinos Lourantos, president of the Association of Pharmacies of Attica, the fact that they are freely available in other parts of Europe contributes to their shortage in his country. The reason? Lourantos, whose organisation represents some 3,500 pharmacists in and around Athens, blames companies that buy up medicines in Greece and export them to other EU countries, exploiting the price differences for drugs across the EU.

The UK is one of the largest markets for these companies, known as the parallel pharmaceutical traders (PPTs), along with Germany, Holland and Denmark.

Lourantos says: 'For example, there is a medicine called Lamictal for epilepsy which is imported to Greece but it is re-exported in such a huge quantity that there is very little left.' He says the problem affects supplies of a number of drugs, including Astra Zeneca's Seroqual for treating bipolar disorder and Risperdal, an anti-psychotic treatment. ...more

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