Pharmacists refund money to the state from their own pocket

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They have been ordered to cover the difference in the costs between the Belarus-made and imported drugs that were sold according to budget prescriptions.

If a pharmacist has sold a medicine which is more expensive than its Belarus-made alternative, the difference in costs must be covered by the pharmacist from its own pocket. Previously, pharmacists thought that selling cheap budget drugs was just a recommendation, not a must. The European Radio for Belarus is finding out what is the talk about on this among pharmacists in Hrodna.

Pharmacy: “Officials from the State Control Committee came and said they wanted to check the prescriptions issued last year. If the drug is not Belarus-made or the one that has not won a tender, we are ordered to cover the difference in costs. The pharmacist who sold this drug is the one to pay. But we do not feel guilty. We did not put that difference into our pocket. We did it for good, for the health of the sick.

Now we are not going to sell. Let the patients sort it out with the doctor. If prescription is issued for an imported drug, we will sell Belarus-made or tender-based drugs.”

ERB: What if you have run of stock of cheap drugs and a patient will be asking for imported ones?

“We will not issue. We will ask our sales department and find out when we expect this drug. We will just tell a patient when to come for it. What else can we do? We need to work.”

It is hard to judge whether this is big money for the pockets of pharmacists. But, a manager of one of the pharmacies has named us the total amount they have already refunded.

Pharmacy: “We have paid a total of Br167900”

The resolution that recommends pharmacies to sell cheap drugs only was circulated by the Hrodna state-owned company Pharmacy. Its Director General Mikalaj Hrycevic describes this situation as an absolutely ordinary. If pharmacists have admitted mistakes on duty, they must be held responsible.

Mikalaj Hrycevic: “The minimum social package affordable by the government (Belarus-made drugs or those winning tenders) is by no means worse than those desired by patients. Why should our country’s budget finance the drugs that are made elsewhere?

Yes, they are registered. They can circulate freely in Belarus. But let those who do have benefits buy them. The pharmacists that worked with the population admitted the violation of a local legal regulation. This could be described as doing harm to the budget.

It means tax-payer money, our money. But we must live in the mode of strict saving of the budget funds. If one gets expensive drugs, the other gets slightly cheaper, the third could end up getting nothing.”

It has become more difficult to get an expensive drug now. It can be prescribed by your doctor, but here the situation is complicated, too. Doctors are encouraged to prescribe Belarus-made drugs. In order to prescribe an imported drug, doctor must gather a commission of experts.

Pharmacists in Hrodna are irate, but they are still refunding the money.

In Vicebsk, the situation is similar, according to our correspondents. But, there, pharmacists are still refusing to pay. When they ask where the money is to go to, the answer is: to the budget.