Roche limits credit to Spanish Hospitals

PHARMACEUTICAL giant Roche is limiting credit to 12 Spanish hospitals which have exceeded the company’s 700-day time limit.

The Swiss manufacturer will not supply further products until they pays off some of their debt.

Roche has not named the hospitals involved but revealed that four are in the Valencian Community, three in Castilla y Leon, three in Andalucia and two in Castilla-La Mancha.

Late deliveries of anti-tumour drugs has seen chemotherapy patients in Cuenca capital and Xativa (Valencia) waiting up to two days for treatment.

A delay of up to two days is not a problem, according to Emilio Alba, head of service at Malaga’s Virgen de la Victoria hospital. But the anxiety for patients battling a grave disease “is as undesirable as not receiving medication,” said Alba, former president of Spain’s Medical Oncological Society.

The situation with Roche was the same as the circumstances with the rest of its suppliers, said a spokeswoman for the SAS, Andalucia’s Health system.

Valencia’s regional Health department acknowledged delays but said the problem would be resolved “soon” following meetings last week with Roche.

Spain’s hospitals ran up total debts of €6,369 million in unpaid pharmaceutical bills by the end of 2011, said professional association Farmaindustria.

With an average delay of 884 days compared to the national average of 525 days, Valencia’s hospitals were the slowest payers.

Baleares was little better, with an 848-day delay, followed by Castilla y Leon (816 days) and Cantabria (804 days).

Roche felt justified in imposing credit limits because it was highly exposed to non-payment by state-run hospitals which accounted for 90 per cent of its turnover, said the company.

On one hand it viewed the payment plan for suppliers, agreed between the national government’s Treasury and the autonomous regions, with ‘certain optimism’.

Nevertheless, the company feared for the future.

“We are very worried about 2012. There are regions that are not paying,” Roche claimed.

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