Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Watering down the dose

A court in the western German city of Essen began the trial of a pharmacist accused of having endangered patients and causing huge financial damage to the health system by mixing thousands of doses of cancer drugs with too few active ingredients. Prosecutors say that the defendant, who worked in the town of Bottrop in Germany's industrial Ruhr district, claimed the full costs for preparing the medicines from public health insurance companies while skimping on the ingredients  for reasons of financial gain. Some medication sold only had one-fifth of the active ingredients they were meant to contain.

Thousands of patients in six German states are also thought to have been affected. The health minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia called the suffering of those affected and their loved ones "unbelievably great."

The pharmacist, identified as Peter S., is also under suspicion for overcharging on some 50,000 prescriptions. The financial damage to health insurance companies is estimated at around 56 million euros ($65.7 million).  The pharmacy allegedly delivered the diluted drugs to several German states and dozens of clinics and private practices.

German activists have demanded tougher controls. Germany's Foundation for the Protection of Patients (Deutsche Stiftung Patientenschutz) demanded stricter controls and spot checks for around 200 big pharmacies across Germany.


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