Health Minister: Situation with Medicaments’ Inaccessibility has Improved

Health Minister Tomas Drucker (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 27 (TASR) – The situation regarding the inaccessibility of medication for Slovak patients has improved since the beginning of January, Health Minister Tomas Drucker (a Smer-SD nominee) told a news conference in Bratislava on Friday.

“The number of missing medicaments is gradually decreasing, I think it’s quite a big difference,” stated Drucker, ascribing it to an amendment to the law that has changed the terms for drug exports as of the New Year.

While there were 2,644 notifications on the inaccessibility of medicine on October 23, 2016, the figure went down to a mere 365 on the same day of January. The number of notifications is thus seven-times lower and will keep decreasing. According to the ministry, which is monitoring the inaccessibility of drugs on a daily basis, 90 percent of medicaments that were missing on the Slovak market at the end of last year are already available. The situation has also reportedly improved in the case of Flexiparine, which was missing the most, claims the minister.

In line with the law on drugs, distribution firms are no longer allowed to export medicaments that are covered by the public health insurance as of January. They can do so only with their producer’s consent. Fines of up to €1 million can be levied for failing to observe the law. The ministry is already investigating two distribution companies on the suspicion of unlawful drug exports. Drucker promised tough punishment for those who violate the new legislation.

A “loophole” through which medicaments for patients were disappearing has already been closed. The growing stocks of medicine and the reduced number of drugs imported into Slovakia attest to this. Medicaments were often heading from Slovakia to western European countries in recent years, where they were sold at higher prices. Many antipsychotics, antibiotics, antiepileptics, anticoagulants, as well as medicaments for cancer patients were then inaccessible on the Slovak market.