Home / Portfolio / The Atlantic / Romania’s Underground Cancer Drug Networks
JAN 31 2013, 10:44 AM ET, BY LILIANA CIOBANU
When the market keeps chemotherapy out reach, sick people turn to friends and the Internet to import medications from countries where they are still available.
Gabriela Stratulat lost both her breasts after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, her oncologist at the Sfanta Maria Hospital in Bucharest said they didn't have all the cancer drugs she needed to fight the disease. She had to start radiation therapy anyway.
"When I started the treatment, the hospital gave me all the drugs I need except for 5-Fluorouracil, because they didn't have it," she says. Ms. Stratulat, 57, checked with dozens of pharmacies in Bucharest but could only find the drug twice. "I was feeling helpless and became desperate. I was saved by one of my son's friends, who bought the drug from Belgium and sent it to me. It's frustrating. I have been paying taxes and contributing to the state budget all my life," she explains. "I don't think it is fair to be treated in such a miserable way."