Minister’s meeting with drug suppliers finds no solution to ballooning drug debt

NEWS 06.04.2021 17:21
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Source: Davorin Visnjic/PIXSELL

Tuesday's meeting between the finance and health ministers and drug wholesalers' representatives did not result in a concrete financial solution to reduce the debt for medicines, but Finance Minister, Zdravko Maric, said the government planned to present it to them "in about ten days."

“The idea behind today’s meeting was to start a dialogue which will continue in the weeks ahead, and the purpose is to ensure regular functioning and operations,” Maric told the press after the meeting at the Health Ministry.

The purpose is also to enable the servicing of liabilities and stop the debts from galloping before a more thorough healthcare reform which, it is now clear to everyone, is more than necessary, he said.

Maric said he did not come to the meeting with a concrete financial offer because the debt to wholesale drug suppliers could not be reduced by short-term measures, adding that long-term solutions were needed.

A dialogue has been opened at government level on long-term solutions which would mean a more thorough restructuring of healthcare, Maric said, adding that the goal was to define a precise pace of financial transfers from the state budget to drug wholesalers during the year.

The goal is for the transfers from the Croatian Heath Insurance Fund be regular, in line with financial possibilities, so that there is no accumulation of additional debt and overdue payment days for hospitals and pharmacies, which until recently had to pay within 60 days but did not, Maric said.

Diana Percac, who represents drug wholesalers in the Croatian Employers’ Association, said no concrete solution was reached today and that drug wholesalers would have to wait for it until the next meeting in about ten days.

“What will happen in the meantime, I can’t say, because every representative will present conclusions to their company and decide how to proceed. With the supplies we have, it’s difficult to say which patients will remain without medicines and when. The supplies are limited,” Percac said.

“The payment pace is very important to us so that we can adapt our operations to it. The long-term solution is to gradually reduce the total debt and bring payment within legally defined deadlines,” she added.

Ivan Klobucar of Oktalpharma said this company had a limited delivery to 33 hospitals and that delivery was unlimited only to those few which paid within 240 days.

Wholesale drug suppliers expect a payment of 900 million kuna (€119 million) which was agreed last week to cover part of the debts of hospitals and pharmacies.

(€1 = 7.57 kuna)

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