Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Some cheap medicines unavailable in ČR, sold abroad

22 February 2013

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - Some 300 cheap medicines are disappearing from the Czech market since they are sold abroad, mainly to the neighbouring Germany, where their prices are much higher, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Thursday.

It says some of these drugs can be replaced by another one with the same active substance but in many cases it is impossible.

Among the medicines that are hardly available in Czech pharmacies are also those for the treatment of HIV positive patients.

"Seventy percent of HIV medicines disappear abroad," Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry (AIFP) head Jakub Dvoracek told MfD, adding that this is gambling with the patients' lives since the HIV positive must not interrupt the administration.

Up to one-fifth of Czech medicines are sold abroad, according to the estimates of the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), MfD says.

Cheap medicines often end up in pharmacies in Germany where their prices are up to twice higher than in the Czech Republic. This is why it is a profitable business for Czech exporters to sell them abroad, MfD says.

"This is an unfortunate result of the state effort to have as cheap medicines as possible in Europe," Czech Pharmacists' Chamber president Lubomir Chudoba said.

To solve the problems with the shortage of some essential medicines, some pharmaceutical companies, for instance, Astra Zeneca and Servier, have started distributing them directly to selected pharmacies on their own, Dvoracek said.

The Pharmacists' Chamber was trying to push through a bill enabling the state to ban the exports of the medicines that might become unavailable on the Czech market.

However, this provision was deleted from the draft legislation on the initiative of Deputy PM Karolina Peake (LIDEM) who argued that it would harm the free market and free movement of commodities in Europe, MfD says.

This week Czech MPs passed an amendment under which distributors would have to report which medicines they export.

"We will at least know how many medicines disappear abroad and how exactly," Dvoracek said.

On the other hand, the neighbouring Slovakia, which faces the same problem, approved a legislation under which the state can protect cheap medicines for its own inhabitants a month ago, MfD adds.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Viktorie Plivova said medicines in the Czech Republic belonged to the cheapest in Europe.

Yet the country does not intend to adopt the same legislation as Slovakia since it might be at variance with European law, she added.

Consequently, the situation on the market with medicines will probably not change soon since it suits too many sides, except for the weakest side - the patients, MfD writes.

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