Home / Portfolio / The Economist / A shortage of cancer drugs
THOUSANDS of cancer patients in Romania struggle everyday to find the drugs their life depends on. The country has been facing a severe cancer-drug shortage over the last two years as more than 20 types of medicine, especially the cheap ones, are very difficult or impossible to obtain.
Last week the government revealed its budget for 2013, which didn’t include any particular provision to solve the cancer-drug shortage. Faced with strong public pressure, Victor Ponta, the prime minister, said two days after the budget announcement that the treasury will lend €800,000 ($1,078,000) to Unifarm, the state company in charge of acquiring and distributing drugs to medical institutions around the country. This fund would help Unifarm purchase from the external market the drugs that are currently missing from the hospitals as foreign companies ask for an advance payment, which usually must be made in less than 30 days. The distribution was blocked because in many cases the national health insurance house (coordinated by the ministry of health) delayed the payments for more than 200 days.