Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) is planning to distribute imported medicines to patients via the national postal service PTT, as part of austerity measures, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Feb. 2.
A protocol between SGK and PTT regarding the transfer of imported drugs was signed a few months ago. Previously, the distribution of medicine coming from imports was done by the Turkish Pharmacologists Association (TEB), which was part of a protocol between SGK and TEB. TEB was receiving commission from the distribution.
SGK’s decision, however, drew criticisms from pharmacists and chambers. The Turkish Employer Pharmacists Union (TEİS) has filed a complaint against the State Council, saying that providing medicine to patients by post without pharmacists’ prescriptions would be very costly.
Many pharmacists and chambers have said that medicines should be kept in cold chain, “or else problems could occur.”
Erdoğan Çolak, the head of TEB, told SGK that patients would be victims of the new process, while TEİS head Nurten Saydan said that “savings should not be done at the cost of citizens’ health.”
“The bill of giving medicine without health consultants and pharmacists would be costly for both citizens and the state. Medicines should not be delivered to patients by a delivery person or by post. Citizens remember the queues at SGK offices very well. Are they now going to wait for medicine in lines outside PTT?” Saydan asked.
Istanbul Association of Pharmacists head Cenap Sarıalioğlu joined the criticisms and said that patients would be victims of the new protocol. He added that TEB would be eliminated from the system with the new regulation.
“With the new regulation, the patients will have to apply to SGK for their medicine in foreign countries. SGK will bring the medicine and send it to the patient from PTT. What TEB does is the same, but since TEB knows the medicine on demand, it keeps a stock of them. Some 70 percent of the patients receive their medicines on the same day. SGK won’t keep a stock of the medicine due to its costs and you may not be able to find the most minor of medicines the day you want it,” he said.
Serdar Göksan, the general secretary of the association, said that medicines should be kept in special conditions, noting that they are uninformed about how PTT would do it.
“Especially medicines for cancer or blood diseases should be kept in cold chains. We don’t know how they will do it,” he said.