A woman gestures at the state health fund office in Athens. Chemists say patients have been going from pharmacy to pharmacy in search of prescription drugs. Photograph: John Kolesidis/Reuters
A woman gestures at the state health fund office in Athens. Chemists say patients have been going from pharmacy to pharmacy in search of prescription drugs. Photograph: John Kolesidis/Reuters

Pharmaceutical companies accused of cutting supplies because of low profits and unpaid bills


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Comments
  • Jo Yelland February 28, 2013 at 9:51 am

    “Non-unique products are medicines for which either a generic exists or a therapeutic alternative option is recommended by treatment guidelines.”

    Rubbish – just because there is an alternative therapy or medication doesn’t mean it’s suitable. If you take someone off Epilim (a neuro-inhibitor used primarily in epileptics) and then move them onto Orlept (another neuro-inhibitor in the same family of drugs) people will suffer. The reason behind this is that although both of these tablets are neuro-inhibitors built around Sodium Valproate, they are manufactured differently, have several ingredient differences and the manufacturing process itself can alter the way the body absorbs and then reacts to the drug.

    Essentially, you can have a tablet for several months then be put onto the generic version or a cheaper version, only to have a severe reaction due to the differences – anything ranging from dizzy spells, sickness and diarrhea right up to life threatening reactions like Steven-Johnsons syndrome (where the skin detaches itself from the tissue behind it, floods with fluids and causes pain and shock, leading to a very unpleasant death).

    The government put something in place in England which is similar to what Big Pharma are doing in Greece – if there is a cheaper version of a medication you will be given that one, even if you have been on a different version for a long time. You can insist on your right to the same medication, but most people do not know this and are not told. Big Pharma push the government to recommend that doctors provide their particular version, even if it’s more expensive, so Keppra (a version of Levetiracetam) will cost £97 a month for a medium dose and is very difficult to come off of. The generic version is £17 per month at the same dose.

    Essentially, if they can’t get back-handers and junkets from lobbying companies, you get forced onto the generic tablets, if they can the NHS and the tax payers pay way over odds for medication that people need to survive. A similar thing has happened in Greece and once there was no chance of getting more cash, Big Pharma lost interest.

    With the way our economy is going, I wonder how long until something similar happens to us?

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