Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class Athens suburb, spends hours each day pleading with drugmakers, wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients. Life-saving drugs such as Sanofi (SAN)’s blood-thinner Clexane and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s asthma inhaler Flixotide often appear as lines of crimson data on pharmacists’ computer screens, meaning the products aren’t in stock or that pharmacists can’t order as many units as they need.
“When we see red, we want to cry,” Mavrou said. “The situation is worsening day by day.”
This part is especially interesting:
The reasons for the shortages are complex. One major cause is the Greek government, which sets prices for medicines. As part of an effort to cut its own costs, Greece has mandated lower drug prices in the past year. That has fed a secondary market, drug manufacturers contend, as wholesalers sell their shipments outside the country at higher prices than they can get within Greece.
Government control of pricing is leading to products being sold elsewhere where better profits can be realized. I am shocked! Shocked, I say, to find there is capitalism going on here!
This sort of thing is to be expected any time .gov throws price controls on anything. Scarcity is usually the result as artificially low prices encourage waste. Don’t think so? If gas was $1.00 a gallon right now would you drive more or less than you do now?
Anyway, the lesson here is twofold: 1) .gov control of medicine pricing is a bad idea and 2) it’s entirely possible that what’s in your medicine cabinet now can wind up being all you have.
I’m reminded of the old saying: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the government.