The coordinating body of pharmaceutical wholesalers at the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) announced on Friday they were beginning a selective suspension of deliveries of drugs and medical supplies to hospitals after their debts had reached HRK 2.6 billion.
Representatives of pharmaceutical wholesalers warned at a press conference that the hospitals' debt was increasing by HRK 150 million every month and, because the government was ignoring their warnings, they would write to the European Commission.
They stressed that none of the hospitals was paying its obligations within the statutory deadline of 60 days, adding that they had borrowed an additional HRK 1 billion to ensure regular drug supplies to the hospitals.
"We are beginning a selective suspension of drug supplies to individual hospitals, and pharmaceutical wholesalers will do this at their discretion," the head of the coordinating body, Ivan Klobucar, said.
He said that some of the pharmaceutical wholesalers would take legal action against the hospitals in Dubrovnik, Sisak and Vinkovci, which are over 1,000 days late in paying their debts.
"The promise by Health Minister Milan Kujundzic about the payment of HRK 200 million for the hospitals' debts has been fulfilled, but the pharmaceutical wholesalers have received only HRK 130 million, which is eight percent of the total debt of HRK 2.6 billion," Klobucar said, adding that he did know where the remaining 70 million ended up.
The debt is expected to reach HRK 3.6 billion by the end of the year, with an average payment period of 590 days. Klobucar said that five hospitals were over 800 days late in paying their debts, and three were over 1,000 days late.
As a short-term solution, pharmaceutical wholesalers are proposing that 50 percent of the debt, or HRK 1.3 billion, be settled immediately, while as a medium-term solution they are proposing the preparation of an acceptable debt payment schedule to reduce the payment time to the agreed 260 days by the end of the year. They say that the problem of the hospitals' insolvency and cost-ineffectiveness should not affect drug deliveries because they accounted for barely 20 percent of total costs in the health budget.
(EUR 1 = HRK 7.388)