Orthopaedic implant company pays £5m order for making corrupt payments to Greek surgeons

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d2408 (Published 13 April 2011)
Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2408

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Dear Editors,

Medical doctors in Greek public hospitals were probed and found to have real estate property and bank accounts comparable to oligarchs!

One in three physicians had huge sums in bank accounts that could not be accounted for.

Apparently, corruption, extortion of money from patients, embezzlements of European Research funds, bribes from pharmaceutical Companies, continue to be widespread in Greek public hospitals.

References

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/01/13/one-in-three-greek-physicians...
http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2014/01/13/13-greek-public-hospital-doc...

Competing interests: Dr Stavros Saripanidis is a diligent taxpayer who is called to pay for all accumulated and ever increasing debt in Greek public Hospitals. Widespread corruption and overpricing have significantly increased Hospital debt.

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Private Surgery, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Dear Editors,

Yet another medical industry Corporation is fined for bribes to Greek doctors in public hospitals. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Amazingly, no Greek medical doctor has ever been punished or lost his/her job as a consequence of all these bribes.

Various Companies and their representatives in Greece get punished, but corrupt Greek doctors in public hospitals are still in place, eager to be bribed again.

Regulators and hospital managers seem unable or unwilling to put an end to this humiliating corruption.

After all, in Greece, even convicted criminals receive their salaries! [8]

References

[1] http://www.fcpaprofessor.com/next-up-stryker
[2] http://www.sec.gov/News/PressRelease/Detail/PressRelease/1370540044262#....
[3] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/24/sec-stryker-idUSL1N0IE0ZN20131024
[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20131024-710703.html
[5] http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/stryker-settles-civil-bribery-...
[6] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/stryker-to-pay-13-2-million-ove...
[7] http://www.wwmt.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/wwmt_stryke...
[8] http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7638/240.2/rr/668679

Competing interests: None declared

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Private Surgery, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Dear Editors,

12 Orthopaedic surgeons having a salary of about 30,000 pounds per year in a public hospital in Patras, Greece were found to have 31,000,000 euros deposited in their personal bank accounts! [8]

Prosecutors are still tracking deposits in their other, offshore accounts as well as deposits in bank accounts of family members.

They were unable to account for all this money.

Prosecutors believe they have been receiving corrupt payments from Pharmaceutical and implant Companies.

Corruption is widespread in Greek public hospitals. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Apparently, the market is much larger than we think.

References

[1] http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2408?tab=responses

[2] http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4803?tab=responses

[3] http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7234?tab=responses

[4] Corruption and informal payments in Greek public hospitals, reported by Deutsche Welle, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, ABC Australia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUrVT0lRu3g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkqxQ3qZg90

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020365880457663881208956638...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/11/12/greeks-seeking-access-to-hea...

[5] Widespread corruption in Greek medical doctors

http://www.hri.org/news/greek/apeen/2010/10-06-14.apeen.html

[6] Ferrari sportscars and villas bought with research funds in Greece:

http://www.athensnews.gr/old_issue/13100/12252?action=print

[7] Health Policy. 2008 Jul;87(1):72-81. Epub 2008 Feb 4.

Informal payments in public hospitals in Greece.

Liaropoulos L, Siskou O, Kaitelidou D, Theodorou M, Katostaras T.

Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Nursing, University of Athens, Greece.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18249459

[8] Jason Manolopoulos’ book, Greece’s “odious” debt, page 105:

http://books.google.gr/books?id=CH6_WqfT0BwC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=31+mi...

Competing interests: Dr Stavros Saripanidis is a diligent taxpayer who is called to pay for all accumulated and ever increasing debt in Greek public Hospitals. Widespread corruption and overpricing have significantly increased Hospital debt.

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Private Surgery, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Dear Editors,

Carone Plan issued by IMF-ECB-EC for improving Greek Healthcare, states that since informal payments and bribes to doctors in Greek public Hospitals are difficult to eliminate, they should be legalized and taxed! [1]

Widespread corruption exists for decades in Greek public Hospitals. [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

This will mean that corrupt payments of implant or pharmaceutical Companies to Greek doctors will not be penalized, in the future!

Carone Plan also implies that bribes paid to Hospital doctors in order to have elective surgery in days, instead of many months or years, should be legalized too!

Is this the best plan expert IMF and ECB healthcare managers and economists have for Greece?

Is it logical to legalize theft and corruption because it is so widespread?

Corruption in Greek public Hospitals can be eliminated overnight, if swift and severe punishments are applied.

Public opinion in Greece has zero tolerance for doctors in public Hospitals who practice extortion for “under the table payments”.

By proposing to legalize bribes, indirect payments and Pharmaceutical Industry promotional activities, these economists lose credibility in my Country.

Compliance to needed reforms is jeopardised if such unpopular measures are proposed.

After all, if stronger ties with Pharmaceutical Companies are allowed, expenditures will rise dramatically.

This has been happening in Greece during the last 15 years!

References

[1] http://www.tovima.gr/files/1/2012/03/13/H%20%CE%95%CE%9A%CE%98%CE%95%CE%...

Page 141

[2] Health Policy. 2008 Jul;87(1):72-81. Epub 2008 Feb 4.

Informal payments in public hospitals in Greece.

Liaropoulos L, Siskou O, Kaitelidou D, Theodorou M, Katostaras T.

Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Nursing, University of Athens, Greece.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18249459

[3] Bribes in Greek public hospitals, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Response in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2408?tab=responses

[4] Greek Hospitals produce every year debt exceeding Hospital total market value, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Response in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4870?tab=responses

[5] Long lasting corruption makes pharmaceutical products in Greece very expensive, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Responses in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4803?tab=responses

[6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/05/greece-healthcare-brink-cata...

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15220054

[8] Corruption and informal payments in Greek public hospitals, reported by Deutsche Welle, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, ABC Australia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUrVT0lRu3g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkqxQ3qZg90

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020365880457663881208956638...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/11/12/greeks-seeking-access-to-hea...

[9] Widespread corruption in Greek medical doctors

http://www.hri.org/news/greek/apeen/2010/10-06-14.apeen.html

[10] Greek National Health System will collapse within months, says Health Minister:

http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_6625_27/01/2012_424775

Competing interests: Dr Stavros Saripanidis is a diligent taxpayer who is called to pay for all accumulated and ever increasing debt in Greek public Hospitals. Widespread corruption and overpricing have significantly increased Hospital debt.

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Private Surgery, Thessaloniki, Greece

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14 December 2011

Dear Editors,

Recently, in only one Greek public hospital of all those implicated in this scandal, corrupted doctors were forced to return 3.8 million Euros to the National Health System. [6]

We can all imagine the amount of money that has to be returned if inquiries come to conclusions in ALL Greek public hospitals!

Unfortunately, there is no way to force doctors to return the hundreds of millions illegally received directly by patients.

Corruption and informal payments are widespread in Greek public hospitals. [1][2][3][4][5]

References

[1] Health Policy. 2008 Jul;87(1):72-81. Epub 2008 Feb 4.
Informal payments in public hospitals in Greece.
Liaropoulos L, Siskou O, Kaitelidou D, Theodorou M, Katostaras T.
Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Nursing, University of Athens, Greece.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18249459

[2] Bribes in Greek public hospitals, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Response in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2408?tab=responses

[3] Long lasting corruption makes pharmaceutical products in Greece very expensive, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Responses in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4803?tab=responses

[4] Bribes, shortages of medical supplies, in Greek public hospitals, Stavros Saripanidis’ Rapid Response in:

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d200?tab=responses

[5] Corruption and informal payments in Greek public hospitals, reported by Deutsche Welle, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, ABC Australia:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUrVT0lRu3g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkqxQ3qZg90

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020365880457663881208956638...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/11/12/greeks-seeking-access-to-hea...

[6] http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/1/51263

Competing interests: None declared

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Private Surgery, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Dear Editor,

Thank you for reporting these corruption incidents in my Country and thus contributing to finally addressing and eradicating these appalling phenomena.

It is the first time that there has been such extensive international media coverage, even though corruption in the Greek Health Sector has been going on for decades! [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

I would like to contribute, completing the story, so as your readers acquire the broad picture.

First of all, doctors in other European Countries were also involved in this case. [5]

All extra costs and informal payments were charged to Greek taxpayers. [1] [4]

There is an ongoing investigation into the involvement of public administrators. [5]

After all, excessive pricing and reimbursement policies are set by Greek authorities. [6] [9]

In Greece surgical material costs much more than in any other European Country! It would be more convenient to travel in Germany or the U.K., purchase what one needs for a day's operations, stay in a hotel for the rest of the month, and then fly back to Greece! This is not allowed by Greek Health Monitoring laws, though. [6]

The European Community should eventually investigate if these limitations are compatible with European treaties that permit free access to services and products abroad...

Medical doctors have nothing to do with billing and Hospital financing! They were simply paid to prefer the products of Company A and not Company B.

But both Company A and Company B sell their products up to 5 times more expensive in Greece!

This lack of planning and coordination together with Public Administration's limited managerial and administrative capacity that permits irrational pricing, was indicated as the source of corruption even by the European Observatory and the World Health Organization. [9]

[1]http://www.gaia-health.com/articles201/000233-doj-punishes-big- pharma-for-bribing-doctors-ignores-corruption-here.shtml

[2]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/pharmaceuticalsandchemicals/7590764/Whistleblower -at-Johnson-and-Johnson-unit-jailed-over-bribes-to-Greek-doctors.html

[3]http://www.greekcity.com.au/content.cfm?id=4629

[4]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article7125154.ece

[5]http://biopharminternational.findpharma.com/biopharm/News/JampJ- Announces-Settlement-for-Corrupt- Practices/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/716802

[6] http://www.eurotopics.net/en/home/presseschau/archiv/results/archiv_arti... -Corrupt-Greek-doctors-rip-off-their-patients

[7] Health Policy. 2008 Jul;87(1):72-81. Epub 2008 Feb 4. Informal payments in public hospitals in Greece. Liaropoulos L, Siskou O, Kaitelidou D, Theodorou M, Katostaras T.

[8] BMC Health Serv Res. 2005 May 28;5:41. Organization and financing of the health care systems of Bulgaria and Greece -- what are the parallels? Exadaktylos NM.

[9] Health Syst Transit. 2010 Nov;12(7):1-177. Greece health system review. World Health Organization 2010, on behalf of the European Observatory on health systems and Policies. Economou C.

[10] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8701127.stm

[11] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/25_05_10_fo4_bribes.pdf

Competing interests: None declared

Stavros Saripanidis, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gyneacology in Greece

Private Sector, 55131

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