Cyprus Mail

Health minister slams pharmaceutical service over drugs labelling

By Evie Andreou

The recent decision of the pharmaceutical services to impose stricter criteria on the labelling of imported medicines intended to stock state pharmacies, is irregular and could cause medicine shortage, Health Minister George Pamporidis said on Tuesday.

After the introduction two weeks ago of a stricter control on medicine labels, Pamporidis gave written instructions to the pharmaceutical services to return to their previous standard procedures as their decision was “arbitrary and irregular”.

The pharmaceutical services had enforced stricter inspections on all imported medicine that were to be delivered to their warehouses, after a number of drugs, already in the shelves of state pharmacies were found some three weeks ago, to contain instruction sheets in German, but not in Greek, as required by law.

Following harsh criticism from the Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association (CPA), of favouring a specific company, since all of the medicines discovered with inadequate labelling belonged to only one company, the pharmaceutical services gave written instructions to its officers for stricter controls.

By implementing the new stricter policy, the service reportedly rejected around 40 per cent of the imported medicines intended to stock the government hospitals as it ruled they had insufficient labelling.

Pamporidis said that this decision was taken hurriedly and the service showed “excessive zeal” to implement stricter controls.

“The result upset the pharmaceuticals market and this could lead to medicine shortages in the public sector,” Pamporidis said.

He denied accusations made in the media that his intervention was aimed at preventing some pharmaceutical companies, whose medicines were rejected due to labelling, from being fined.

“The modification of this practice can only be ordered by the drugs council and not the pharmaceutical services. The way the change was introduced was irregular,” Pamporidis said.

He added that he asked at the same time the competent authorities to re-evaluate their practices based on the existing legislation, but also their followed practices “so that we can determine whether we need to make amendments”.

“If the assessment indicates that both the legislation and the followed practices are not effective, the drugs council as the competent agency, will be asked to redesign both the [legal]framework and procedures for the medicine labelling and delivery system after consultation with stakeholders,” he said.

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