Patients are running out of specialised medications due to the state’s lack of planning, head of the patient association (Osak) said on Wednesday.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Osak president Charalambos Papadopoulos said the ministry’s funds for the specific medications “may or may not last the month”.

The original sum earmarked for the purchase of innovative medicines was €120 million but at the end of 2023, this was revised to €50 million with the idea that the rest would get covered by the health insurance organisation (HIO), Papadopoulos said.

According to reports, the ministry of health is scrambling to secure additional funds and has the money to cover the needs of patients for the next two weeks, having approached the ministry of finance to request additional appropriations.

“We have reached this point because the state assumed the HIO would be ready in April to take over covering these medicines, but this did not happen. Since 2015 anyone could see how the HIO conducts its procedures and how anyone could think that within such a short time frame this could be rectified is a question,” Papadopoulos said.

The patients’ association has been warning for years that the HIO needed to speed up its process, Papadopoulos added, particularly its price negotiations.

“Although a fairly good number of medicines have been approved, we are hearing complaints that the HIO is understaffed in this department and the budgeted funds have been exhausted within six months, with six more months to go. It is outrageous,” the patient advocate said.

Elsewhere, it emerged that an important medicine for kidney disease sufferers has been in short supply for a month, with some pharmacies preparing waiting lists.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the particular medicine was among those destroyed when the state medical storage warehouse flooded in March, according to Alphanews.

The medicine is a preventative therapeutic to avert the need for dialysis, and its shortage affects hundreds of patients.

Health Minister Michalis Damianos is set to meet on Wednesday with representatives of drug importing companies, aiming to strike a deal for the integration of certain specialised medicines into the state health care system.

Kidney patients are also appealing to the ministry for an immediate solution to the medicine shortage, while the minister is expected to also meet with representatives from the pharmaceutical services over this matter.