Minister says he plans to eliminate doctor-drugmaker ring

  • 2005-01-19
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's Gundars Berzins, minister of heath, has unveiled his ambitious plans for the healthcare industry, declaring that he would eliminate under-the-table payments for medical services and a conspiracy between doctors and pharmaceutical companies aiming to promote certain drugs.

Berzins is chairing a new task force on industry problems that will hold its first meeting on Jan. 31. Rinalds Mucins, the ministry's deputy state secretary, told Parliament on Wednesday that doctors often agreed to secret cooperation with pharmaceutical companies under which doctors would prescribe for their patients mostly drugs made by the given company in return for certain benefits.

Speaking to the Baltic News Service, Mucins said that such benefits could take the form of all-expense paid trips to international medical conferences or a share of profits from sale of drugs. The ministry official stressed that "doctors must not be dealing in medicines" and efforts should be made to eliminate the practice.

"Each case should be examined individually. It cannot be said that a more costly medicine would always be worse" remedy than cheaper drugs, which sometimes have more side-effects, said Mucins.

Latvia's healthcare industry has been beset by problems, including strikes, low wages and all-around worker discontent.