PUBLISHED:08:24 EST, 3 November 2012| UPDATED:08:26 EST, 3 November 2012
The spiralling decline of the Greek economy took an even more brutal turn today with the news that German pharmaceuticals firm Merck KGaA has ceased deliveries of a life-saving cancer drug to Greek hospitals.
The drug, Erbitux, is an effective treatment for both colorectal cancers and head and neck cancers
A number of industrial giants have shied away from accepting orders from the crisis-hit Greeks.
Another German-based pharma giant, Biotest, suspended shipments to Greece because of unpaid bills in in June of this year.
Matthias Zachert, Merck’s chief financial officer, told the German newspaper paper Boersen-Zeitung that publicly-owned hospitals in several euro-zone countries had been struggling to pay their bills.
But the German company, which also manufactures the Seven Seas brand of dietary supplements as well as medical pharmaceuticals, has singled out Greece – and this one drug – as a special case.
‘It only affects Greece, where we have been faced with many problems. It’s just the one product,” Herr Zachert said in an interview.
In some other countries affected by the Euro crisis, for example Spain, central government has stepped in to make up the shortfall in hospital funds.
The drug giant says that hospitals in several southern European companies have had problems with settling their accounts
‘That has improved things, even though the situation should still be regarded as critical for the coming years’ Zachert said.
A spokesman for the company stressed that Erbitux – also known as Cetuximab – is still available for private purchase in Greece.
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