ABC News
Galenika says Serbia well-supplied with drugs


BELGRADE, Jan 28 (Reuters) - State-run pharmaceuticals maker Galenika said on Friday Serbia's market was well-supplied and played down widespread expert warnings that its drugs were decreasingly efficient.

Yugoslavia was swept by a flu epidemic at the beginning of January and patients had said they could not buy antibiotics, vitamins or other drugs vital for the chronic patients.

Many local pharmacists and doctors have warned their patients that drugs currently produced in Yugoslavia lacked some of the key active components, which meant lower efficacy. They advised patients to purchase foreign brands instead.

"Rumours about low quality of our drugs are simply untrue. I can guarantee that Galenika implements a very strict internal quality control," head of Galenika Marija Krstajic said.

At the height of the flu epidemics the state and its media said a lack of essential drugs was temporary because of a long New Year holiday season.

"This market normally consumes 300,000 packs of ampiciline per month. In the past 25 days, we have delivered more than 250,000 packs of all kinds of ampicilines," Krstajic told a news conference.

"There is no need to panic because the government has done its best to have enough drugs on the market," she said inviting journalists to visit production facilities.

Serbia reinstated Galenika in February 1999, after forcibly taking over the plant, the majority of which belonged to U.S. ICN Pharmaceuticals (ICN.N).

The plain-clothes police helped the takeover, after a local court ruled that the former majority owner suddenly held only 35 instead of a 75 percent stake.

Krstajic insisted the takeover did not damage the company's ties with foreign partners who, she said, had continued to deliver various components for the medicaments.

"We countinued cooperation with Roche (ROCZg.S) and Bristol Myers (BMY.N). We expect (to sign) a contract with Bristol in February for three new drugs that Galenika had not produced before," Krstajic said.