ND tables proposal for Parliamentary probe into current health ministers, Kouroumblis

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) on Wednesday tabled a proposal in Parliament for an ad hoc preliminary investigation committee to examine whether two current and one former health minister of the present government were guilty of breach of trust. The proposal to investigate Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, and his alternate Pavlos Polakis was signed by the main opposition’s entire Parliamentary group, except Marios Salmas.

The main opposition MPs asserted that, based on a document sent to Parliament, the state had lost 40 million euros and patients with social insurance funds a further 100 million euros as a result of drug pricing policies signed by Xanthos and Polakis in December 2016, while hundreds of millions of euros in additional damages were caused as a result of specific decisions that violated laws on the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

They called for Kouroumblis, who was health minister from January 28 to August 28 in 2015, to be investigated for his failure to issue a drug prices bulletin, despite having a legal obligation to do so, which resulted in the pharmaceutical spend remaining high and benefited companies like Novartis. Kouroumblis was also accused of failing to implement laws stating that the price of generic drugs must be 65 pct that of the equivalent off-patent brand medication, again leading to losses of hundreds of millions of euros.

Similarly, Xanthos stands accused of delaying the issue of drug price bulletins in 2015 and then favouring some 200 drugs so that state spending was not reduced, while Polakis is accused of continuing to pay pharmaceutical funds on the basis of the higher drug prices, even though he was aware that the drug price bulletins had not been issued as required by law.