POLITICS

Cabinet allots RON 750,000 to buy morphine for cancer patients

The prime-minister calls for setting up national drug reserve to be used in cases of emergency.

The Cabinet convened yesterday afternoon in an extraordinary meeting called up by PM Ungureanu and decided to allot RON 750,000 out of the Government’s Reserve Fund to purchasing morphine-based drugs needed for the treatment of cancer patients, according to the Government’s spokesperson Dan Suciu, quoted by Hotnews. ”We hope we’ll have the drugs in the country in 2 or 3 days”, also said Vasile Cepoi, state secretary for Health Ministru.Governmental sources quoted by Mediafax said that prime-minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu had called on the Health Ministry to present, in a week’s time, a study concerning the set-up of a national reserve that would include drugs to be used in cases of emergency. “Such a reserve exists, now, but only for exceptional cases, and it does not cover cases where hospitals do not have certain drugs on stock,” the sources further argued. The reserve would allow the authorities to avoid problems similar to those arising in the treatment of cancer patients.The Executive’s decision comes after the main morphine and opium-based painkillers manufacturing company, Mundipharma, announced it would pull off the Romanian market. Mundipharma catered to approx. 60 pc of the demand for opium-based drugs used in the treatment of cancer patients in Romania. The company’s reasons apparently include the delay at which drugs are refunded and particularly the clawback tax, realitatea.net argues. The head of the National Health Insurance Office (CNAS), Lucian Duta, told Mediafax that Mundipharma was restructuring its activity model, but gave assurances this would not affect the delivery of the company’s products. However, the chairman of the Federation of the Cancer Patients Association, Cezar Irimia, warned that the problem is much more serious and that, in the absence of morphine, an awful lot of patients would be condemned to a slow and painful death. Over 10,000 patients await cancer palliative drugs. The suspension in the delivery of morphine for cancer patients stirred a heated debate in the media, which resulted even in complaints being filed at the National Audiovisual Council (CNA), after the talk-show host Mihai Gadea referred to CNAS head Lucian Duta as “pathetic” and “moron” during a programme presented on Wednesday evening in Antena 3, disgruntled with the answers Duta had provided during a conversation on the phone. CNA chairman Rasvan Popescu told Hotnews that the Council would address the case sometime next week.

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