Danish pharmaceutical group Novo Nordisk said Monday it was reintroducing in Greece drugs for treating diabetes it had pulled from the Greek market over a government decree to lower drug prices.
Novo Nordisk, the world's largest producer of insulin to treat diabetes, said new drug prices decided by Athens on Friday made it possible to start selling all of its products in Greece again.
"These new prices on 48 insulin products are below what we consider reasonable, but they are nonetheless acceptable compared to the immediate 25 percent reduction of drug prices announced by Greece in May," Mike Rulis, Novo Nordisk's head of corporate communications, told AFP.
In March, Greece decided in a government decree to slash drug prices by 21.5 percent on average as part of a vast effort to cut its public deficit, which reached 14 percent of GDP in 2009.
Despite requests by the pharmaceutical industry to cancel the decree, Greece announced in May an immediate price cut of 25 percent on all prescription drugs, deemed "unacceptable" by Novo Nordisk.
"Novo Nordisk never stopped its sales in Greece, but informed the Greek government it would not comply with the price cut, which brought Greek suppliers to stop imports" of the company's drugs, as they would be selling the medicines at a loss, Rulis explained.
He said Greek prices were already among the lowest in Europe, and that a further price cut in Greece, used as a reference for drug prices in other countries, "would trigger similar reductions" elsewhere.
About 50,000 people in Greece use the new generation insulin products pulled but then reintroduced from the market.
Novo Nordisk's sales in Greece amount to 48 million euros (58 million dollars) annually.