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Greek smuggling of Viagra crosses Bulgaria

24 April 2013 / 19:04:16  GRReporter
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The police seized employees of three pharmaceutical companies involved in a criminal organization for illegal export of medicines to Bulgaria and other Balkan countries. The medicines were mainly Viagra and medicines for treatment of cancer.

The main participants in the illegal trade of medicines are physicians, representatives of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists. They have created a network that drains resources from health funds through fictitious prescriptions for expensive medicines. Then, the participants sell them in foreign markets, thus securing a double profit for the participants involved in the chain. The health insurance funds pay them for the prescribed medicine on one hand and its sale abroad brings additional profit on the other.

According to the information presented to date, the illegal trade carried out by the specific group has been flourishing over the past five years. The illegal export of medicines for cancer treatment to Bulgaria and other countries in the region has reached large proportions. The medicines were sold at prices two to five times higher than in the Greek market and the long-term draining of the Greek health funds has led to a shortage in the country.

The agency investigating tax frauds in the country announced that it had carried out over 250 inspections in Athens, Thessaloniki, Messinia, Arcadia, Corinth, Achaia, Corfu, Rhodes and Etoloakanania as well as in four major warehouses for medicines throughout the country.

"We found out that a Greek physician has opened a medicine trading company in Bulgaria and supplied through it the countries of northern Europe, where prices are much higher than in Greece," reads the official release. The company of the physician had a representation in Athens that worked with local pharmacies, which issued fictitious prescriptions and gave him the medicines. Subsequently, they were exported through Bulgaria to the German, Swedish and other western markets.

After a joint inspection carried out by the police and tax authorities and the Ministry of Health in Thessaloniki, 400 fake invoices and a large number of medicines of unknown origin that were intended for export  were seized. The inspection on the island of Rhodes found that two pharmacies had illegally exported medicines worth over 100,000 euro with the help of the same person, who has established the commercial company in Bulgaria. In Tripoli, the authorities imposed a fine to the amount of 12 million euro on two warehouses for medicines that had also forged documents.

The inspections to detect the illegal trade continue abroad in order to establish the gaps in the Greek market. In addition, tax audits of the assets and bank accounts of the pharmacies and warehouses for medicines as well as of the individuals involved in the affair will be carried out. The Ministry of Health will destroy the medicines for which there is no certificate of origin.

In addition to the illegal export of medicines from Greece, the inspection authorities found out that physicians from Thessaloniki have smuggled preparations for IVF treatment from Turkey. The National Office of Public Health has not controlled these medications but they have been administered to pregnant women in Greece.

Tags: SocietyCrime newsSmugglingViagraBulgaria
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