Greece will spend no less than €2.8bn on pharmaceuticals in 2012 in spite of pleas from authorities to cap its spending at €2.1bn due to the chronic economical crisis gripping the country.

The European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary fund had previously demanded that the country cap its spending, but Greece health minister Andreas Loverdos announced the compromise whilst confirming that he expects national drug spending to total approximately €3.1bn for the year.

Greece’s national drug spend has tumbled in recent years, falling from €5.6bn in 2010 to €4.1bn in 2011, but Loverdos has warned that the country is still spending excessively on unnecessary drugs worth about €1bn per year.

Loverdos said that doctors were prescribing more drugs when they should have been prescribing less, something that would need to be addressed with the revised pharmaceutical budget.

Greece’s economical crisis is also impacting the availability of key medicines, with the national pharmacy association announcing that almost half of the country’s 500 most used medicines are in short supply. Budget restraints have been compounded by public insurance bodies owing pharmacies approximately €300m for medicines purchased since April 2011.

Business Monitor International has estimated the Greek pharmaceutical market fell 10.1% to €6.48bn in 2011 whilst healthcare spending also tumbled, down 5.4% to €21.64bn, as the country’s debt crisis continued to impact on public spending.