The Romanian government is being sued by an organisation that represents patients suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases, demanding new and efficient therapies.
"Six years have passed since the list of drugs reimbursed by social security was last updated", Cezar Irimia, president of the Alliance for Chronically Ill Patients, told AFP, calling the government's failure to renew the list a violation of a patient's "right to live".
Following repeated unfulfilled promises by several administrations to update the list, the Alliance launched legal proceedings on Wednesday against the government, the health ministry and the department for social security asking for an "emergency" update, a spokeswoman for the Bucharest Appeal Court confirmed.
Irimia said the NGO had also lodged a complaint with the European Commission claiming that the delay in approving new drugs violates an EU directive stipulating that authorities must either reject or introduce a new medicine on the list of reimbursed drugs within a maximum of 180 days.
"There are so many young patients for whom there is no alternative, the new generation of drugs alone can save their lives," Irimia said.
"No one is held responsible in Romania for the deaths that could have been avoided if drugs were available."
Some 1,000 patients are currently in need of new drugs therapies that are currently unavailable to them, he added.
Failing to update the catalogue of reimbursed drugs is just one of the problems affecting Romania's health system, alongside insufficient funds, corruption, and the exodus of doctors and nurses in search of better paid jobs, experts say.