SYRIZA Accused of Protecting Drug Firms

ATHENS – While proclaiming itself defenders of ordinary Greeks and opposing austerity measures, the major opposition SYRIZA Leftist party is blocking lower prices for drugs by protecting pharmaceutical company profits, Health Minsiter Adonis Georgiadis said.

Ramping up his feud with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, Georgiadis said the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, is trying to lower drug prices but is being hindered.

“I have never heard until today SYRIZA wanting to protect the profits of other sectors of the economy,” said Georgiadis on Nov. 25. “Suddenly SYRIZA decided that it wants to protect the profits of Greek pharmaceutical companies. This is a huge political issue and the opposition party has to provide answers.”

SYRIZA opposes a bill the government says will lower drug prices with Georgiadis saying the party is more interested in profits for big pharmaceutical companies he said is a financial backer of them.

SYRIZA said that it’s Georgiadis who raised the prices of some medicines, failing to get committee approval for the latest legislation and basing his decisions on meeting spending targets set by international lenders and not the needs of patients.

SYRIZA accused Georgiadis of using the battle with SYRIZA to mask problems in the health cae system and said that it was he who was acting on behalf of multinational drug firms.

“When 28 percent of patients have to stop taking their medicines because of financial difficulties, when the government transfers the cost of pharmaceutical spending to patients… it is outrageous that SYRIZA is being criticized for not voting for an amendment that essentially favours only multinationals and not citizens.”