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Roche Limits Drug Billing Credit for Iberian Clinics

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May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Roche Holding AG tightened its bill-collecting policy for hospitals in Spain and Portugal, requiring clinics with the worst arrears to pay down debts before they can get more drugs on credit, and may do the same in Italy.

The policy applies to a dozen Spanish hospitals and 23 hospitals in Portugal, about a quarter of Portuguese hospitals, Silvia Dobry, a Roche spokeswoman, said today. In Spain, that means Roche won’t supply drugs to hospitals that are more than 700 days behind on payments, El Pais newspaper reported today.

Roche has tightened its payment policies in the countries most affected by the euro debt crisis, switching in the first quarter of last year to a payment-on-delivery policy in Greece for hospitals with the biggest debts. The Basel, Switzerland-based drugmaker changed its policy in February in Portugal and last year in Spain, with more Spanish hospitals added to the list in March and April, Dobry said.

“There are several hospitals that have not paid their bills for more than two years,” Dobry wrote in an e-mail. Hospitals are given credit again if they pay down their old debts to reach a certain level, she said.

Roche is also weighing a policy change in “a limited number” of Italian hospitals that haven’t paid their bills for two to three years, she said.

The affected Spanish hospitals are in the regions of Castile and Leon, Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha and Valencia.

In Spain, the policy applies to all types of drugs. In Greece, Roche offers an emergency access program, allowing even debt-ridden hospitals without funds to pay on delivery to get HIV drugs, transplant medicine CellCept and a handful of other medicines the drugmaker makes for life-threatening diseases.

Some of the affected Portuguese hospitals hadn’t paid for more than 1,000 days, according to Roche. None of the country’s cancer clinics are affected by the new policy, Dobry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Kresge in Berlin at nkresge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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