COMPETITION PROTECTION BODY FINES NHIF BGN30,000
The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) imposed a BGN30,000 fine on the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) because of its violation of art. 18, paragraph 1 of the Competition Protection Act. The Commission also ordered that the violation be suspended.
The proceedings in CPC were initiated by the request of the Union of Pharmacists in Bulgaria with regards to a NHIF decision to only sign contracts in 2005 with pharmacies that give it and the patients 8% of the end price of the medicine products.
By actually changing the medicines list through introducing a column Amount of discount, VAT included, according to an individual contract with a pharmacy, NHIF evades the regulations of the currently effective Bulgarian legislation and makes a change in the medicines list. Being a monopolistic enterprise on this market, the fund unilaterally establishes disloyal trade conditions in the contracts with the pharmacies, the CPC conclusion says.
NHIF officials remind that the fund used the money saved due to the 8% discount condition for payment of drugs worth over BGN10MN. We are certainly going to appeal against the CPC decision. If the court confirms the sanction, next year we'll apply a new method for signing contracts on the basis of the lowest overvalue among all offers from pharmacies, NHIF Deputy Director, Dr Decho Dechev, said.
The terms for signing contracts have not been an obstacle for the pharmacists, the officials add. According to the numbers, NHIF has agreements with 2,270 pharmacies now - 130 more than it had in 2004.