Editorial – Novartis affair: from scandal to conspiracy

The Novartis affair which Mr. Tsipras had described as a major scandal and most opposition parties described as a conspiracy did not develop in a vacuum.

One must make some fundamental observations before describing the case.

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Everyone who has followed the evolution of expenditures on pharmaceuticals knows that the phenomenon of excessive prescriptions began after 2002 and snowballed between 2004 and 2009 under the New Democracy government.

At that time directed prescription writing became something of an industry.

That is why it became the first target of the troika which vehemently demanded a reduction of pharmaceutical expenses and it achieved that between the second and third memorandum.

Between 2010 and 2014 the expenditure was limited to two billion euros from six billion. From thereon in governments kept expenditures at controllable levels.

The political angle of the Novartis affair came to the forefront much later, after excessive subscriptions were largely under control.

In January, 2018, as SYRIZA was planning its electoral campaign there were articles that spoke of forthcoming revelations of kickbacks to politicians.

The same month at a meeting at night at the PM's office the government  was informed and ministers started talking about a huge scandal, the biggest since the founding of the Greek state, even as prosecution of ten distinguished politicians who were staunch opponents of the Tsipras government was being prepared.

From the start there were suspicions that the case was opened with ulterior motives. The large number of those charged and the implication of persons above suspicion enhanced the disputes and doubts about the...

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