Bulgaria's Health Insurance Fund Fined Third Time
The Bulgarian Competition Protection Commission (CPC) has fined the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) by BGN 30 000 over abuse of monopoly.
According to the Commission, NZOK has unilaterally imposed price caps on the medicines it pays for and reduced the gross margins for the pharmacies by 8% and in this way has damaged not only the retailers, but also the consumers because in order to make up for their losses, the pharmacies have been selling medicines at maximum margins.
This is the third fine that CPC has imposed on NZOK for the same violation.
In 2005, the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union has approached CPC for the imposed rules by NZOK, which were contradicting the Health Insurance Act and the National Framework Agreement.
Then CPC imposed a fine of BGN 100 000 but the Health Insurance Fund did not change its margins.
In May 2008, NZOK has been fined again for the same violation. The Health Insurance Fund has appealed the decision of CPC. However, the Supreme Administrative Court has rejected the appeal.
According to the Competition Protection Commission, the Health Insurance Fund cannot define the prices of the medicines or the amount it pays the pharmacies.
The Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union has announced that NZOK has damaged pharmacies with at least BGN 10 M per year.
Bulgarian pharmaceutics said that they could sue NZOK over lost profits, but will probably not do it because NZOK could decline the contracts with them and it is the only institution in the country that pays medicines for patients with public funds.
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