Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/26/2014 -- Despite the Greek economy's expected return to growth in 2014, we expect no lessening in the pressures on the Greek pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors over the medium- to long term. Further discussions with country's troika of lenders clearly indicate that more cuts to spending are on the horizon. With the government continuing to target the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector for cost savings, and against a backdrop of considerable market decline, generic drugs will present the only growth opportunity for drugmakers over the medium term.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: EUR5.64bn (US$7.45bn) in 2013 to EUR5.27bn (US$6.70bn) in 2014; -6.6% in local currency terms and -10.1% in US dollar terms. Forecast downwardly revised from previous quarter.
- Healthcare: EUR13.42bn (US$17.71bn) in 2013 to EUR11.86bn (US$15.06bn) in 2014; -11.6% in local currency terms and -15.0% in US dollar terms. Forecast downgraded from previous quarter as a result of further cost-containment measures.
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Risk/Reward Rating: Greece's position in our Risk/Reward Ratings remains unchanged for another quarter, at 58 out of 100, making it once more the fourth most attractive pharmaceutical market in Central and Eastern Europe. Out of the 20 countries in our ratings, Greece comes behind Russia, but ahead of Slovakia. Although Greece's financial outlook has stabilised and debts are being paid down, the spectre of further price cuts, clawback taxes and the EOPYY's inability to pay drugmakers in a timely manner present significant risks to the industry.
Key Trends And Developments
- In March 2014 the Greek government decided to contain healthcare expenditure and drug spending to EUR2bn (US$2.72bn) in Greece in 2014, reports iatropedia.gr. The move has increased speculation that 2014 will be a difficult year for patients, with less funding set aside for medicines. Medical associations and pharmaceutical companies have stated that reducing healthcare spending to less than EUR2bn (US $2.72bn) could pose serious threats to public health in the country. Meanwhile, the government's healthcare spending was registered at EUR2.37bn (US$3.28bn) in 2013.
- In the same month, the Greek government and the troika of international lenders - the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank - brokered a deal on the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs at outlets other than pharmacies. Under the agreement, pharmacists will be given a three-month deadline to offer discounts on non-prescription drugs in an effort to decide whether these products will be sold exclusively at drug stores or also by other retailers. The health ministry's negotiations with the troika were difficult, as it felt that liberalisation of the OTC drug market will not auger well for the country, which has the highest rate of pharmacies per resident in the world, according to Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis.
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