Brussels reviews ban on drug exports

THE EUROPEAN Commission is looking into whether a Slovak law that bans pharmaceutical distributors from exporting drugs abroad is compatible with the principle of the free movement of goods, the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported in its April 1 issue. The law, according to the Health Ministry, is meant to protect patients from drug shortages, which resulted from Slovakia exporting mass quantities of cheap drugs abroad.

THE EUROPEAN Commission is looking into whether a Slovak law that bans pharmaceutical distributors from exporting drugs abroad is compatible with the principle of the free movement of goods, the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported in its April 1 issue. The law, according to the Health Ministry, is meant to protect patients from drug shortages, which resulted from Slovakia exporting mass quantities of cheap drugs abroad.

If Brussels confirms that Slovakia violated the EU law, the country will face fines.

The Health Ministry however says that the measures, passed last January, are adequate and in compliance with EU laws. According to ministry spokesperson Martina Lidinská, they adopted the new measures to prevent “the threat to the life and health of the citizens”, which could be caused by shortages of certain drugs, as reported by Hospodárske Noviny.

Former health minister Ivan Uhliarik however believes the law is not the best solution.

“The problem of re-exporting could have been resolved by banning the resale of drugs from pharmacies to distributors,” he said, as quoted by Hospodárske Noviny.

The drugs are often exported after the pharmacies sell them to distributors with high margins, ending up in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Great Britain, the daily wrote.

Since the Slovak law became effective, the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) has issued 142 decisions that stopped the export of 100,700 drug packages. No distribution firms have appealed, ŠÚKL spokesperson Valéria Pernišová told Hospodárske Noviny.

Source: Hospodárske Noviny

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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