Greek debt pushes drugmakers to cut off supplies

Big Pharma is sending out the debt collectors in Greece. The country's public hospitals are so far behind on paying their drug bills that some companies are actually starting to cut them off. Roche, for instance, has stopped delivering its meds to public hospitals that are in arrears, Dow Jones reports, and other companies are threatening to do the same.

The country's pharma association says that hospital debt has been accumulating since April, on top of last year's outstanding debt. As Dow Jones notes, the association figured that 80 percent of drug products purchased from January 2010 to March 2011 were in arrears. "[I]n the first quarter of 2011, hospitals and pharmacies purchased medicinal products worth about €70 million, of which only €332 have been paid!" the association said in a letter to the government. "That is not a typing error."

Not only is Greece behind on paying its bills. The country has also been paying international suppliers in government bonds. And as anyone who's been following the European debt crisis knows, Greece's public debt isn't exactly triple-A rated.

"This is a major issue," Nycomed CEO Hakan Bjoerklund told the news service. "In reality, this means we're not getting all of the money they owe us. If the situation gets totally out of hand and we don't think we will get paid in the end, we simply cannot continue to deliver products."

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