Expatica news

Doctors and chemists in Belgian pill row

7 June 2004

BRUSSELS – In an increasingly bitter row with the country’s pharmacists, Belgium’s doctors are threatening to start selling medicines directly to patients, it was reported on Monday.

The row centres on free samples of medicines that drug companies make available in order to promote their products.

The pharmacists say that they alone should be able to offer free medicines to customers, so that they can ensure that only the poorest patients benefit from the perk.

Analysts say the pharmacists are worried that the doctors are cutting into their profit margins by giving free drugs to people who should be able to pay for their medicines.

But doctors unions say the pharmacists are trying to tell doctors how to do their jobs.

The main doctors’ union, the Association Belge des Syndicats Medicaux (Absym), says doctors should have the right to give free samples to whomever they deem fit.

The union adds that if the pharmacists continue with their demands then doctors could start selling medicines directly to patients.

Such a move could have a devastating effect on pharmacists’ profits.

The Belgian Health Minister Rudy Demotte has so far refused to get involved in the argument.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news