The European South is bleeding and making efforts to extricate itself from deep recession and destabilization. The situation has received global attention and even though it has become a hot potato within the European political agenda, there are still a lot of debates about how the situation will improve. As usual, industries, as economic sectors, and societies, as the foundation of economy, are both experiencing the toll of the perplexing and suffocating economic situation.
The pharmaceutical industry is considered as one of the strongest and wealthiest factors of the global economy. It offers a very accommodating work environment for many professionals of various scientific fields, and it remains one of the most generous supporters of a social policy, with foundations, which provide funding and grants for students, researchers, and institutions. However, the sector was taken aback by the fiscal crisis and has gone along with other industries in imposing drastic cuts in funding, layoffs, and cutting back on investments.
Yet, the impact on the pharmaceutical industry did not solely derive from the fiscal deterioration and consumers’ demand. For the past years, the national Ministries of Health were delaying in providing the payments for medicines, a process which accumulated debt and has made the supply of drugs and medical equipment inevitably problematic, amid crisis. Greece and Italy, as both debt-stricken EU members with deficiencies in the payments to companies but still highly competent in the sector, continue to deal with these predicaments.
The availability of medicines is an explosive issue in Greece. Apart from the fact that public hospitals owe billions to pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists, the constant threat of a “euroexit” and the disparaging statistics about the future of the European South, do not give space for the industry to invest or to follow a feasible and socially interactive management. Many corporations became profoundly skeptical, and they have drastically curtailed their charity and research funding, decreased their sales networks, and in some cases, they have even stopped providing services.
In Italy, things are almost identical with delays in payment representing the major problem of the sector. Furthermore, the extensive inequality of services on a regional basis has resulted in generating disproportionally large debts from region to region. In addition, deep recession, in combination with the recent healthcare reform and low consumerism, has inevitably reduced pharma’s income and employment.
The situation has also shaped a new commercial framework. There are voices claiming that the quality of medicine will deteriorate and that the fiscal crisis will be a disincentive to major research projects. Furthermore, the penetration of Chinese and other Asian pharmaceutical companies within the European market will also have an effect on the industry’s income, production, and development. Besides, the steady stream of reports analyzing the Chinese market’s staggering lack of standards when it comes to producing pharmaceutics,an issue that the European industry used to capitalize on during the past decade, does not seem to block this intercontinental business rivalry.
In conclusion, the pharmaceutical industry can be converted into an opportunity for growth only when governments recognize that efficient healthcare policies not only will provide better health conditions for the citizens, but also an economic boost for national assets. The crisis in the Eurozone impedes development and does not give space for pharmaceutical companies to survive – especially the small ones. It is indisputable that pharma was not created by angels and formed with stardust. People have voiced concerns about the practices it follows in assessing, producing, and disposing products as well as how it balances the inequality between cheaper medication and a better health. In the end, it still remains the main pump from which something inspiring, productive, or colossal for global health will stem.