Drug giant’s move angers Greeks

By Malcolm BrabantBBC News, AthensFile image of insulin being injectedThe Danish company’s decision has been criticised in Greece

The world's leading supplier of the anti-diabetes drug insulin is withdrawing its medication from Greece.

Novo Nordisk, a Danish company, objects to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines.

People with diabetes in Greece have condemned the Danish action as "brutal capitalist blackmail".

More than 50,000 Greeks with diabetes use Novo Nordisk's state of-the-art-insulin, which is injected via an easy-to-use fountain pen-like device.

A spokesman for the Danish pharmaceutical company said it was withdrawing the product from the Greek market because the price cut would force its business in Greece to run at a loss.

The company was also concerned that the compulsory 25% reduction would have a knock-on effect because other countries use Greece as a key reference point for setting drug prices.


Greece wants to slash its enormous medical bill as part of its effort to reduce the country's crippling debt.

International pharmaceutical companies are owed billions in unpaid bills. Novo Nordisk claims it is owed $36m (£24.9m) dollars by the Greek state.

The father of a 10-year-old Greek girl with diabetes called Nephele has written to Novo Nordisk's chairman saying there was more to health care than the bottom line.

"You could not have acted in a more insensitive manner at a more inopportune time," he wrote.

The Greek diabetes association was more robust, describing the Danes' actions as "brutal blackmail" and "a violation of corporate social responsibility".

The Danish chairman, Lars Sorensen, wrote to Nephele's father stressing that it was "the irresponsible management of finances by the Greek government which puts both you and our company in this difficult position".

People with diabetes in Greece have warned that some could die as a result of this action.

But a spokesman for Novo Nordisk said this issue was not about killing people. He pledged that the company would make traditional insulin products available free of charge to compensate.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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