Remember when Greece was a shining example of public health care?
The reasons for the shortages are complex. One major cause is the Greek government, which sets prices for medicines. As part of an effort to cut its own costs, Greece has mandated lower drug prices in the past year. That has fed a secondary market, drug manufacturers contend, as wholesalers sell their shipments outside the country at higher prices than they can get within Greece.
Strained government finances only make matters worse. Wholesalers and pharmacists say the system suffers from a lack of liquidity, as public insurers delay payments to pharmacies, which in turn can’t pay suppliers on time.
“Wholesalers simply do not have the money anymore to play bank to the pharmacies,” Heinz Kobelt, secretary general of the European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies, said in a telephone interview.
To quote a great lady, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” Unfortunately for the Greeks, the Socialists managed to mess up a lot more than just their finances.