Representatives of medicines wholesalers in Croatia met with Health Minister Vili Beroš, after Medika suspended the delivery of medicines to all 64 hospitals due to huge debt and Oktal Pharma reduced deliveries.
By the end of the week, 900 million kuna ($139.4 million) will be paid to wholesalers, to which disgruntled wholesalers say they will continue to deliver medicines to hospitals, and Minister Beroš claims that this will not endanger patients.
"Unfortunately, Croatian patients in times of pandemic are not in focus. Out of HRK 6.5 billion ($1 billion( in debt, we have been offered HRK 800-900 million in debt due by the end of this week.
"Unfortunately, this amount is not sufficient to ensure the regular delivery of medicines and medical devices so that each wholesaler will continue to operate with hospitals under its internal rules.
"Whether he'll change existing decisions, I don't know. Restrictions on the delivery of medicines to hospitals will continue," said Diana Percač, president of wholesale co-ordination at the Croatian Association of Employers (HUP) after the meeting.
Representatives of wholesalers demanded HRK 3.5 billion ($542 million) in debt and a payment plan by the end of the year.
"We do not want to communicate with representatives of the ministry and the authorities through the media. We want to ensure the survival of our companies and the distribution of medicines for patients.
"These are our focuses, so HRK 3.5 billion is minimal," Percač said, adding that they were not offered anything long-term.
Phoenix Pharmacy CEO Jasmin Huljaj pointed out that the amount offered is not enough, so further restrictions on the delivery of medicines should be expected.
"They were presented with a short-term solution, i.e. a sum of money that can be remitted at the moment with an accelerated budget transfer. Of course their claims are higher and at the moment this amount does not reach their total scope. This is what the finance ministry and the government are able to offer at the moment," Minister Beros said.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic spoke of debt to wholesalers. "The same things are repeated over and over again. Always on the eve of some election, wholesalers are hired by PR agencies to do pressure in the media.
"We used to pay our debts, we're in talks right now. Minister Beroš's task is to take into account finances and expenditures. This should be the first step in solving the problem, and everything else, such as contributions, is the next step. They'll be delivering medicine, don't worry. It ends the same every time," the Prime Minister replied.
"They can hold on, they have big profits, I don't see them being hungry," the prime minister said of the debt to wholesalers. ■