Cancer drugs case should not be seen as isolated incident, health minister warns

Recent revelations about a ring stealing cancer medication from the state health system should not be viewed as an isolated incident, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos said on Wednesday. He announced that the health ministry intends to tighten up measures to guard against a repetition of similar incidents in the future.

“This is not an isolated case. We must not treat this as a random incident that just happened to be revealed,” he said, while noting that a strong political will now exists to boost “morality” within the health system and address any legal gaps that allowed unacceptable lawlessness and corruption.

The investigation now underway would show how the specific ring operated, and also the effect this had on patient care, Xanthos noted, while expressing the opinion that this was more than a financial crime but had placed people’s lives and health at risk. He also referred to a climate of insecurity among patients following the revelations, especially cancer patients.

The minister announced the government’s intention to beef up the monitoring mechanisms of the National Organisation for Medicines (EOF), reinforcing it with additional staff and tools and making use of e-systems for managing prescriptions and pharmaceutical supplies.

“A political signal has been given that there will no longer be any political immunity for such behaviour. It is no accident that at this time, precisely because the will exists and there is cooperation of the agencies involved, and because prosecuting authorities are allowed to do their job, there are results,” he added.