The Greek government has announced a provisional ban on the parallel exporting of 34 innovative medicines.

Regular price reductions have boosted parallel trade in innovative medicines out of Greece, resulting in shortages for patients in the country. 30 of the 34 drugs to come under the temporary ban are produced by multinationals, including one each from Amgen - Mimpara (cinacalcinet), Merck Sharp and Dohme - Pregnyl (chorionic gonadotropin), Novartis - Tegretol (carbamazepine), Roche - Lariam (mefloquine) and UCB - Atarax (hydroxyzine)

AstraZeneca has eight on the list. They are Oxez (formoterol fumarate dehydrate), Pulmicort (budesonide) and Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol - three presentations) turbohalers, and two presentations of Zoladex Depot (goserelin).

Also on the list are two different dosages of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Abilify (aripiprazole), two of GlaxoSmithKline's Serevent (salmeterol) and two of Janssen-Cilag's Risperdal Consta (risperidone). Novo Nordisk has four products on the list - Levemir Flexipen (insulin detemir), Vagifem (estradiol) and two versions of NovoRapid (insulin aspart). Pfizer has seven - Relpax (eletriptan), plus two different presentations each of Celebrex (celecoxib), Inspra (eplerenone) and Lyrica (pregabalin).

Announcing the decision, National Organisation for Medicines (EOF) president Ionnis Tountas said it was "an emergency measure for the protection of public health and in order to secure the coverage of the needs of patients in Greece."  Products included on the list are either unique or "hold a substantial market share and show deficiencies," he said.

The ban is widely reported as being set to run for three months, although the announcement from the EOF states merely that it has "provisional effect and is effective until its revocation or amendment by a newer decision of EOF."

Speaking on Greek radio this week about the temporary ban, Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos urged drugmakers to stop withdrawing their products from the Greek market.

Meantime, new price cuts, averaging around 7% across the board, are to be introduced in Greece in early February on a wide range of reimbursed drugs. 

The measure, which is aimed at producing savings of around 150 million euros a year, will include new prices for around 800 in-patent drugs, based on the average of the three lowest prices to be found in 22 European Union (EU) reference markets, IHS Global Insight reports.

Some 300 off-patent originator products will be re-priced based on the international reference pricing of in-patent drugs, while the prices of generics costing over 10 euros will drop 10% and those costing 5-10 euros will have their prices cut 5%. Prices of generics costing less than 5 euros will not be cut.