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Patients in South Cyprus suffering from rare diseases are buying their medicines from the TRNC.

According to Cyprus Mail Newspaper, speaking during a press conference to mark “Rare Diseases Day”, representatives of patient groups explained how several of the vital drugs prescribed to patients are either not available or, even they are, so costly that people often travel to the TRNC where drugs are cheaper to buy them.

This applies for instance to patients suffering from Myasthenia Gravis, a disease characterised by muscle weakness, said the representative for a patients’ support group, Anna Zanettou.

She said that in late 2014, one drug that sufferers depended on was removed from state hospital pharmacies. The reason given was that the drug was ‘off label’ which means the drug was not listed as being specifically for Myasthenia Gravis patients.

Zanettou, however, insists the real reason was the cost as the drug had previously been available for treating the disease at state pharmacies for years.

Last month alone, three patients died, she said, adding that some sufferers have been forced to borrow money from loan sharks to get their hands on enough cash to purchase the necessary drugs.

The price of the drug is €333 in the South Cyprus where it is €180 in the TRNC.

Rare diseases found in Cyprus include congenital heart defects, genetic neurological diseases, myopathies, metabolic syndromes, skeletal malformations, and rare diseases in the thalassaemia sector. At least 60,000 people in South Cyprus suffer from some type of rare disease.

Zanettou described how one patient’s doctors had requested a drug from the pharmaceutical services.

“They have not received an answer yet. Our patient has passed away and the doctor still hasn’t got a response.”

This article is serviced by Public Information Office as a Media Rewiew. This is NOT an official public release of MFA