Greece hospital supply crisis might wind down

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 17, 2010
An update on the medical
supply crisis in Greece
A crisis facing Greece public hospitals desperate for needed medical supplies might be winding to a close.

The Greek government announced Tuesday it struck a deal with medical and drug suppliers to resume shipments of goods after the companies stopped delivering all but "basic supplies" to public hospitals in protest over the 5.7 billion euros (around $7 billion) the government owes them for purchases over the last five years.

In the agreement announced by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, the government will give suppliers 345 million euros for supplies from 2005-2008. The government will also issue nearly 5 billion euros in zero-coupon bonds for goods purchased through 2009 to be matured over the next three years.

Medical and pharmaceutical companies said they would resume shipments immediately, the Greek Consulate in New York told DOTmed News, although they don't have an exact date.

Since May, suppliers have stopped delivering surgical gloves, thread, X-ray film and dialysis filters, causing major hospitals to postpone blood tests, diagnostic scans and even operations, the consulate said.

According to Ekathimerini, a Greek newspaper, Evangelismos Hospital in Athens could not carry out heart surgeries, while others hospitals had to cancel CT scans.

Some medical devices sell in Greece for as much as 500 percent more than in the rest of Europe, according to media reports cited by the consulate.

"For example, the cost of an external defibrillator for a Greek hospital was 21 euros whereas its cost in the European market was 8.95 euros," a press officer said, referring to media reports.

As of June 1, the Ministry of Health Institute is running a new system to buy supplies to keep them close to market prices, the consulate said.