The state should punish the illegal medicines trade with the full weight of the law, but should also stimulate legal business in the health sector.

The legislative insufficiency, combined with the constant pressure to reduce prices and margins of medicines, stimulate the grey economy and criminal schemes in the health care sector.

The pharmaceutical business in Bulgaria strongly supports the actions of the state against the illegal export of medicines. However, the companies – strategic investors in the healthcare sector – specify that this is only a first step and illegal export of medicines should be criminalised through deliberate changes in the Criminal Procedure Code. The main criminal law in the country currently does not address the distribution of counterfeit medicines, which by law are all products sold outside the regulated drug-supply chain.

The action carried out by the state authorities three days ago shows in no uncertain terms that the abuses in the sector are caused precisely by criminal actors and that taking legislative and administrative measures against them is pointless since these individuals and companies do not respect and comply with the law in the first place. A thorough analysis of the reasons for the existence of unregulated exports is necessary to find an effective solution. And it shows that there is a complex action of many factors – legislative failure, limited resources of state authorities to control “one-day” companies, constant pressure to reduce margins and prices of medicines, low pay of health professionals and many others. However, the combined action of all state bodies, as was done in the action carried out, remains a single action that has fought a symptom but is not a solution to the cause of the ‘disease’. One group has been detected, but the causes for the next group to appear tomorrow have not been eliminated.

That is why the pharmaceutical industry, which strictly complies with the letter of the law, meets the highest international standards, has a reputation and a clear role in society, is calling for effective measures against the grey economy and criminal practices. Clearly in this situation, it is precisely the stable business structures, which alone are able to export the economic burden of the sector, while guaranteeing compliance with all laws and applying high ethical principles, that appear to be an indispensable strategic partner of the state.

For a lasting solution, a new approach is needed – introducing effective changes to the Criminal Procedure Code to prosecute and punish such practices with the utmost severity of the law. On the other hand, liberalization of legislation in the health sector to support the economy and business development through scale rather than through pressure on prices and margins in the low volume and low purchasing power of the Bulgarian market. We must not forget that the primary role of the state is to stimulate the economy, which invests, creates jobs and gives a professional future to the nation.