Turkey’s Social Security Institution cuts 143 drugs from coverage

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AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK

Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) has decided to cut payments for 143 drugs after it warned Turkish pharmaceutical companies to produce their drugs locally but was unhappy with the results, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday.

The list of the drugs not covered by the SGK includes antibiotics and prostate, diabetes and nervous system medications.

Turkish Pharmacist Employers Union Chairman Nurten Saydan said the doctors’ list of “drugs covered by social security” has not been updated to reflect the decision, which makes it difficult for patients to access their medications.

“SGK no longer covers 143 drugs, but doctors still write prescriptions for them. Pharmacists can’t dispense the products under social security coverage, but they also can’t give any other drugs with the same active ingredients because of the Medula system unless they are written on the prescription,” Saydan said.

The SGK introduced a regulation called Medula for Turkish pharmacies under which pharmacists must obtain confirmation for every drug they sell within its coverage. The system has been criticized since its release due to infrastructure problems and the amount of time required for confirmations.

“There are seven alternatives to the prostate medication that the SGK doesn’t pay for, but patients cannot obtain them, and pharmacists’ hands are tied because of the system,” Saydan said.

Turkey has recently been having problems with imported drug supplies, too, due to the Turkish lira’s fall against the dollar and the euro.

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