If there’s any lesson to show that healthcare today is an industry, take a look at Greece. With the economy heading south, even healthcare is affected just like any of the other industries in Greece – production problems, delivery issues and lack of supplies are for real. What with the current economic turmoil, a leading global pharma company has even decided to pull the rug and stop supplying a state-of-the-art medication to the beleaguered country.
Novo Nordisk, a Danish company and the world’s leading supplier of insulin (a drug used for treating diabetes) is withdrawing the Novopen from Greece as it objects to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines (see here).A spokesman for the Danish pharmaceutical company said it was withdrawing the product from the Greek market because the price cut would force its business in Greece to run at a loss.
This has resulted in local action groups condemning the move as brutal, bad timing and a neglect of corporate social responsibility. Novo Nordisc on the other hand claims that it is owed $36m (£24.9m) dollars already by the Greek state, whose coffers are now empty.
Most likely, many other big pharmas will follow suit soon and is likely going to cause a crisis within a crisis soon. (Doctor2008: its now reported that another firm, Leo Pharma is also withdrawing sales). Which is a shame, because Greece in recent times ensured everyone of its citizens received free healthcare services and at the same time had one of the most admired private healthcare services in Europe, the so-called “Greek Paradox”.
Back to my opening sentence – its all very well for some activist groups to proclaim universal healthcare rights for all, but this has to be tempered with the realities of the economics of modern healthcare delivery. No country in the world can afford a liver transplant for every patient with advanced cirrhosis of the liver; so I beg to differ with those who say healthcare is a basic human right…I would amend it to say that basic healthcare is a basic human right.
Developing countries like Malaysia could do well looking at what’s happening to Greece, because when push comes to shove, healthcare, like any other industry, will be subject to ups and downs of economic forces and suffer the same consequences as any other industry.
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