PHARMACEUTICAL TOURISM OR A BAD SYSTEM
The eighth Congress of the Bulgarian Union of Pharmaceutists on Saturday (November 29) woke up sleeping spirits in the healthcare system. And if the spirit in the medical glass is good or evil will be known only when it goes out of it. The problems which the union has to settle are quite a lot. The organisation insists that when a licence for the opening of a drugstore is granted, the opinion of the respective regional pharmaceutical association should be taken into consideration. A year ago the union moved to the National Assembly a draft bill on the professional organisation of pharmaceutists. Both doctors and dentists have been having laws since quite a long time. The passing of that act will allow the Bulgarian Union of Pharmaceutists to take part in the signing of the National Framework Agreement. The relations between the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the distributors of medicines are not sufficiently transaparent, according to the Chairman of the Control and Inspection Committee Ognyana Medarov. This makes possible profiteering from the prices of medicines. Producers register high prices of medicines, the prices paid by the Healthcare Insurance Fund to distributors are not known, and drugstores then sell them at twice higher prices than the registered ones. According to the rules of the NHIF, its contracts with the distributors are confidential and it could be only guessed what amounts of money go to the latter. As a result of the limited number of drugstores which close contracts with the NHIF, medicines paid by it cannot be provided to the the sick in the more remote parts of the country. Under the Act on Medicines and Pharmacies, when no certificated pharmacist is available. a licence can be granted to an assistant pharmacist. And the NHIF does not close contracts with drugstores where there are no certificated pharmacists. Therefore, people living in small population centres have to go to the nearby larger towns in order to get the medicines they need. Insulin, for example, is sold in only six pharmacies in Sofia and patients have travel several kilometres in order to get it. Pharmaceutical tourism has become a main pursuit of retirees who have to procure their life-saving medicines. Pharmaceutists expect abuses to be reduced after passing an act on pharmacies. But in order to change a law in the sphere of healthcare, a number of others should be amended as well. This involves reconsideration of the procedure for licensing of drugstores and establishment of criteria not only for the quality of produced and distributed medicines, but also for good-quality medical services. A sepaarte law for the manufacture and distribution of medical goods paid by the NHIF is necessary as well. The Bulgarian Union of Pharmaceutists proposes that their prices should be fixed instead of regulated. The union insists for the introduction of more severe sanctions for some illegal acts, such as the sale of a diploma, the lack of a certificated pharmacist in a drugstore, the sale of medicines without the necessary licence, ownership of pharmacies on the part of distributors and producers of medicines, sale of medical products to citizens from wholesale warehouses, trade at dumping prices, etc.