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Novo Pulls Its Insulins Out of Greece

Jun 2, 2010

The world’s leading supplier of the anti-diabetes drug insulin is withdrawing it from Greece. Could Lilly and Sanofi-Aventis be next…?

Novo Nordisk was objecting to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines.

A campaign group has condemned the move as “brutal capitalist blackmail.”

More than 50,000 Greeks with diabetes use Novo Nordisk’s product, which is injected via an easy-to-use fountain pen-like device.

A spokesman for the Danish pharmaceutical company said it was withdrawing the product from the Greek market because the price cut would force its business in Greece to run at a loss.

The company was also concerned that the compulsory 25% reduction would have a knock-on effect because other countries use Greece as a key reference point for setting drug prices.

Greece wants to slash its enormous medical bill as part of its effort to reduce the country’s crippling debt.¬†International pharmaceutical companies are owed billions in unpaid bills. Novo Nordisk claims it is owed $36m (¬£24.9m) dollars by the Greek state.

The Greek diabetes association stated that Novo’s decision as “brutal blackmail” and “a violation of corporate social responsibility.”

The Danish chairman, Lars Sorensen, response was that it was “the irresponsible management of finances by the Greek government which puts both you and our company in this difficult position.”

People with diabetes in Greece have warned that some could die as a result of this action.

But a spokesman for Novo Nordisk said this issue was not about killing people. By way of compensation, he said the company would make available an insulin product called glucagen, free of charge.

BBC News