Bulgarian Prosecutor Probes Medication Price Policy
Bulgaria's Health Minister, Stefan Konstantinov, announced Thursday that he had alerted the Chief Prosecutor about irregularities in contracts for medications sealed by the National Health Insurance Fund, NZOK.
The move came after it emerged in recent days that NZOK had paid BGN 6 M more for medications in 2011, compared to 2010, when the signing of the contracts was under the authority of the Health Ministry. Some of the medications had a price that skyrocketed 10 or more times in 2011.
In an interview for the private bTV, Konstantinov reiterated he did not know about the more costly medications and was guilty only of overly trusting his now-dismissed Deputy, Gergana Pavlova, who was in charge of the medication policy of the institution. He also declared he is subject to constant attacks because he refused to be part of any scams. He explained that this was the precise reason why he refuses to resign i.e. admit the victory of those who are draining NZOK.
In a parallel interview for Nova TV, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, informed he will decide in a week's time weather or not to sack the Health Minister over the latest scandal with the prices of medications, after examining all documents he had gathered on the case.
Borisov's Deputy and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, cast strong doubt that Konstantinov did not know about these prices, saying it would be as he was to say he did not know the percentage of the interest rates.
In response, the Health Minister launched a counterattack, stressing that Djankov had been much closer to his two Deputies, appointed way before he took over the Ministry, and that information usually reached the Finance Minister much faster.
According to Konstantinov, it was NZOK which should have protected the interests of the Ministry and of patients.
Meanwhile, Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, confirmed he had ordered a probe in the case, and promised that if there is established evidence of a crime, there would be a Court trial.
Velchev reminded that the Prosecutor's Office is competent in the Penal Code, not medication price policies.
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