The Slovenia Times

Doctors quit Health Ministry task force over medical devices pricing

EconomyHealth & Medicine

Ljubljana - Doctors from a group termed have left a Health Ministry task force in charge of changing public procurement procedures in healthcare because their proposal to eliminate price anomalies in procurement of medical devices has not been welcomed. They also oppose fees that would have to be paid to the national medical agency.

After Slovenia was embroiled in a scandal with overpriced stents a few years ago, the group of doctors proposes setting a reference price for every medical device on the basis of officially obtained prices in Germany or Scandinavia.

They also propose for Slovenian buyers to have an option of buying a desired device on the common European market if the Slovenian supplier does not guarantee a price comparable to the reference price.

The doctors sent the proposal to the task force, but "after three months since its establishment and after seven sessions, it has become clear that the task force's purpose is not to implement our initiative, but to neutralise it," Marko Noč, head of UKC Ljubljana's department of intensive internal medicine, told the press on Tuesday.

As Noč was quoted as saying in a press release the Slovenian Medical Chamber distributed after the group's news conference, they left the task force because they do not want to share responsibility for the status quo of excessive prices.

The task force now features two Health Ministry employees, one Public Administration Ministry employee, one from the prime minister's office and an external expert.

The Health Ministry expressed regret about the move, saying it would continue striving to improve procedures and make contracting more transparent.

The ( group also took the opportunity to highlight what it sees as a harmful draft decree on medical devices which is in the making while a new EU regulation on medical devices enters into force next week.

Krištof Zevnik said it aimed to introduce up to 500% higher fees Slovenian producers of medical devices would have to pay to the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices.

This will affect hundreds of small producers, and health organisations doing direct business with Slovenian or European producers, while bringing the agency over 6 million euro a year, he said.

Zevnik argued that by putting forward this change, the agency created a system to fully limit competition, which was in contradiction with the new EU regulation.

The new decree will not affect large suppliers of Slovenia's healthcare, which are overcharging medical devices to harm the country's public funds, he said.

The group see these attempts as "a concerted action to drain Slovenian citizens and taxpayers by the state and para-state healthcare system".

They thus urged the ministry to withdraw the fees and institute effective public health agencies which will protect patients and contribute to transforming the state healthcare to public healthcare system.


More from Economy