While Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis may claim that doctors are ‘partying’ at the expense of patients, his ministry’s pricing rules for generic drugs means patients and insurance funds pay much more than their counterparts in Sweden

Generic drugs sold in Greece can cost up to 880% times the price of the same medicines in more affluent Sweden due to the pricing system followed by the health ministry, Eleftherotypia has revealed.

The health ministry has repeatedly claimed that doctors are frustrating the government’s aim to reach a point where 60% of all drugs prescribed are generic. But the pricing system followed by the government means that the difference between patent and generic drugs is insignificant compared to Sweden, where half of all prescriptions are generic.

Under current rules, when the patent expires on a particular medicine, the price of drug is reduced by 50%, based on the highest price it once had on the market.

Similarly, under the same rules, the generic drug costs 40% of the original price of the patented drug.

Thus, if one patented drug cost €10 a pack, its off-patent price would be €5 and the generic equivalent €4 – a minimal price difference.

These rates are fixed, meaning that the rules applied to patented drugs – that they must cost the average of the three lowest prices of the drugs in other EU countries – do not apply.

The situation has attracted the attention of the troika, which has called on the health minister to change the pricing system for off-patent drugs so that they too are in line with the three lowest prices available elsewhere in the EU.