S.A.R.E.L. halts drug supplies to 8 government hospitals

Ministry of Health: The hospitals will have to tell their patients to buy their own drugs.

S.A.R.E.L. Supplies and Service for Medicine, which supplies drugs and medical equipment to all the government hospitals, notified the Ministry of Health and eight government hospitals yesterday that it was halting supplies as of this morning, due to the hospitals’ accumulated debts.

The government hospitals’ payments arrears amount to NIS 130 million, and their total debt is NIS 200 million.

The Ministry of Health said that S.A.R.E.L.’s announcement means that the hospitals will runs short of drugs and equipment within 24-48 hours, and patients would have to be told to pay for their own drugs.

Hospitals receiving notification from S.A.R.E.L. include Rebecca Sieff in Tzfat, Poriah in Tiberias, Bnei-Zion and Rambam in Haifa, Sheba Medical Center at Tel-Hashomer in Ramat Gan, Assaf Harofe-Zerifin, and Wolfson in Holon.

S.A.R.E.L. president and CEO Moshe Modai told “Globes” that the company had warned the hospitals about the situation a few weeks ago, at the instruction of the Ministry of Finance.

S.A.R.E.L. is a private company, but the state controls it indirectly. The company shares are held by a public non-profit organization, the members of which are appointed at the recommendation of the government hospitals. The company supplies the hospitals with tens of thousands of items of drugs and medical equipment, which it buys from local manufacturers, such as Teva (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE:TEVA) and Agis Industries, through agents, or directly from international companies.

Negotiations yesterday between Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Health Dan Naveh ended without result, and no further meetings were scheduled.

Published by Globes [online] -l www.globes.co.il - on July 16, 2003

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