An interesting article in the Swiss press
this morning regarding the big Swiss drug companies, Roche and Novartis.
Apparently the PIGS are not paying their drug bills. The numbers are big. The bills have been unpaid for years. Some excerpts from the article:
Hospitals in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are delaying paying for drugs by up to three years.
$20 billion of unpaid drug bills??
According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), European states owe €12-15 billion (SFr14.4-18 billion) to the pharma industry, which includes groups like Roche and Novartis.
A number of public hospitals and state insurance schemes are close to bankruptcy. But before being unable to pay staff salaries they stop paying suppliers," Ignazio Cassis, vice-president of the Swiss Medical Association.Hospitals and state managed health insurers are bankrupt??
This came as a bit of a shocker to me:
The number of unpaid bills from Spain, Portugal and Italy increased last year, while those from Greece fell as a result of ‘zero coupon bonds' issued by Athens, Roche spokeswoman Claudia Schmitt said.
WHAT?? Greece is issuing zero coupon bonds? Bonds, not trade payable debt? To pay for drugs? How many zero coupon bonds has Greece issued? What are the terms for these bonds?
This whole story blows me away. I'm not surprised that the bankrupt PIGS are late payers. But three-years? That's ridiculous. If the PIGS are stiffing drug companies, who else are they stiffing? Are they paying for the oil they use? Food? How big are these trade IOUs?
Nearly every day we get some story about the progress being made to address the financial ills of the weak European countries. Last week it was the phony Greek restructuring deal (it won't happen). This weekend the talk is for Trillions of dollars from the IMF. Complete rubbish.