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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-20

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, August 20, 2002


  • [01] New packaging rules could mean more expensive medicines
  • [02] Sewage Board chief suspended over fake accountant claims
  • [03] Bases hit back at attack by British greens
  • [04] Greens accuse British of 'bribing' residents
  • [05] CTO aim to improve facilities for disabled tourists
  • [06] Matsakis: I'll call mayor to account over Ayia Napa dump
  • [07] Government introduces new radiation protection rules
  • [08] Food and toxic chemicals don't mix

  • [01] New packaging rules could mean more expensive medicines

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    NEW pharmaceutical legislation is forcing cheaper drugs off the market, causing an increase in the average price of medicine and opening the path for a drug monopoly, the Chairman of the Pancyprian Pharmaceutical Association (PPA) warned yesterday.

    Nicos Nouris said a rise in drug prices was imminent, as small companies providing 'generic' medicines - cheaper equivalents of prototype drugs - were unable to meet the demands of a new law due to the increased legislative requirements on packaging.

    The new law implemented in January 2002 as part of EU harmonisation requires all packaging to be in Greek. But the law goes a step further by demanding more comprehensive information on the carton, such as the Cyprus manufacturing licence or a local importer's registration number.

    Many small companies find the Cyprus market too small to be worth investing in new packaging, Nouris said, adding that local agents had already observed a downward shift in exports to Cyprus.

    The supply of generic drugs is very important to the market because it reduces the cost of branded medicines. If more companies stop exporting to Cyprus, it will create a monopoly of branded medicine, leading to higher prices and a lack of cheaper alternatives.

    Nouris highlighted that even the packaging of generic drugs in Greece failed to satisfy the new requirements, removing the option of simply importing cheaper Greek drugs.

    "The PPA supports the new legislation and the requirement for Greek language packaging. But we are concerned about losing cheap medicine alternatives on the market," said Nouris. "The size of our market must be taken into consideration. We need to examine the possibility of changing the new clauses to allow for packaging as it is in Greece. Otherwise, we will lose the opportunity to take advantage of the Greek market for cheaper generic drugs."

    He said the new legislation also permitted parallel imports as a method of regulating prices but that it was not an easy option given the size of the market. Parallel imports allow for an unlimited number of importers, thereby getting rid of sole distributors and keeping prices low. There are already 150 importers in Cyprus, an equal number to that of Australia, making the market share for most importers very small. The Pharmaceutical Services had yet to receive an application for parallel imports, said Nouris.

    Another method for reducing the price of medicine would be to find a way to reduce the first price of medicine, the 'cif' price, he maintained. The Pricing Committee, made up of industry and government representatives, are currently unable to negotiate or regulate the initial price of medicine. Nouris believes that more rights given to the committee would allow for a reduction in prices. As of January next year, all drugs coming from Greece will be reduced by 19.85 per cent from their 'cif' price, he added.

    Regarding the wholesalers' 30 per cent profit margin, he did not find it too high compared to Europe's 4-12 per cent range because he said the Cypriot wholesaler, unlike its European counterpart, also acted as distributor and promoter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Sewage Board chief suspended over fake accountant claims

    By George Psyllides

    THE director of the Sewage Board was yesterday suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he had falsely presented himself as a Chartered Accountant.

    The matter emerged last week after Politis newspaper claimed that the director of the Sewage Board, Christodoulos Yiallouros, who has held the position for the past 30 years, had been falsely presenting himself as a Charter Accountant, a qualification needed for being appointed to the position.

    Politis alleged that Yiallouros was not a member of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) in the UK, a charge denied by Yiallouros, who nevertheless claimed he had stopped paying his subscription to ACCA in 1978.

    However, the Cyprus Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPA), said the ACCA had told them that Yiallouros had never been a member. The Cypriot association therefore struck him off their register last week.

    Yesterday, the Sewage Board decided to suspend Yiallouros after a two and a half-hour extraordinary session and to ask the Interior Minister to appoint an investigating officer into the affair.

    Yiallouros had been placed on forced administrative leave last week after Politis revealed the matter.

    "Yiallouros is suspended as from this moment and we are asking the interior minister to appoint an investigating officer," Nicosia Mayor and Chairman of the Sewage Board Michalakis Zampelas said yesterday.

    At the same time, the Attorney-general's office is looking into the case and criminal charges could be brought against Yiallouros.

    Yiallouros claims the accusations are malicious, because he had not given in to nepotism.

    Zampelas - himself an account - said last week that the revelations had been a blow to the accountancy profession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Bases hit back at attack by British greens

    By Alex Mita

    THE British Bases (SBA) have hit back at claims by the UK Green Party that the new PLUTO antenna, soon to be erected at Akrotiri Salt lake, would cause irreversible damage to flora and fauna.

    Greens spokesman Peter Polycarpou, told the Cyprus Mail last week it made no sense to try and relocate flora and fauna in the area, which is to be included in the RAMSAR convention for the preservation of wetlands.

    But in a letter yesterday, Head of Media Operations, Robert Need said the relocation of flora and fauna had been carried out on the recommendation of international environmental experts, and stressed that the chosen site for the installation of the antenna was not included in the area to be designated under the RAMSAR convention.

    Need brushed aside claims by the UK Greens that dangerous levels of electromagnetic radiation would be emitted from the antenna.

    "The Greens have absolutely no evidence to support their claim that electromagnetic radiation emitted from the antenna will cause irreversible damage to the environment by destroying nesting and migration sites in the area," Need said.

    "For more than 30 years, antennas on the Akrotiri Salt Lake have been transmitting at an equivalent power without detriment to the environment."

    Polycarpou claimed the SBA had chosen to break ground for the installation of PLUTO during the holiday season in an attempt to avoid clashes with the locals and the Greens.

    But Need said the reason the SBA had chosen to begin works during this period was due to a limited window of opportunity.

    "The works had begun in early July prior to the holiday season because of the limited window of opportunity that is available for construction work and not though any desire to avoid confrontation," Need said, adding that the SBA had taken a great deal of time and effort to ensure the government and local residents were consulted at each stage.

    Need categorically denied a claim made by the UK Greens that a study carried out by a team of experts to assess the off site environmental effects and socio-economic impacts of the antenna was insufficient.

    "The study by the International Panel of Environmental Experts was extremely painstaking and thorough," he insisted.

    "Where they identified shortfalls in data that we provided these were remedied prior to their completing their final report."

    Need said the greens had no evidence to support their argument that the shrimp and ultimately the flamingo population would be affected by the antenna.

    "These were not points made in the report by international environmental experts. They are also wrong in their statement that the area has been under the protection of the RAMSAR convention since November.

    "The area, which excludes the antenna sites, was nominated as a potential RAMSAR site in early July. There is a lengthy consultation process to be gone through prior to full RAMSAR protection being afforded."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Greens accuse British of 'bribing' residents

    By a Staff Reporter

    GREEN Party Deputy George Perdikis yesterday accused the British Bases of offering financial incentives to residents around Akrotiri, in the hope they would turn a blind eye to the possible effects of electromagnetic radiation in their area.

    At a news conference yesterday, Perdikis also accused the government of striking a deal with the British that would allow the National Guard to operate a radar near an RAF radar in Troodos, as long as the SBA were allowed to go ahead with the construction of their new antenna.

    Head of Media Operations, Robert Need categorically denied both Perdikis' allegations saying he found the deputy's comments offensive.

    "People living around the SBA areas are aware of the benefits they can receive as regards to work," Need said.

    "We are not bribing the residents, but we do have business dealings with them."

    Regarding the radar, Need said that no deal had been struck with the government, but added there was an issue of the National Guard radar interfering with the RAF radar.

    Need denied there had been an agreement between the SBA and the National Guard that would benefit both parties.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] CTO aim to improve facilities for disabled tourists

    By Soteris Charalambous

    PLANS are being implemented to improve facilities for disabled visitors at popular tourist areas, the director of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), Phoebe Katsouris, said yesterday.

    "We are implementing plans to upgrade the facilities at two CTO managed tourist sites and develop them specifically for the needs of people with disabilities," said Katsouris. "These will include improvements to toilets, changing rooms and a ramp of an appropriate distance to take a wheelchair to the water's edge."

    The two areas singled out for the improvements are the CTO beach in Larnaca and the Forestry Department's campsite at Polis Chrysochous, which is managed by the CTO. According to Katsouri, the work at both sites should be completed by the summer of 2003 and is expected to cost around 30,000 in total.

    "The plans are a reflection of our increased sensitivity to the needs of disabled visitors to our sites and represents part of our ongoing activities at several beaches, which include providing toilets for the disabled and pathways suitable for wheelchairs," said the CTO Director.

    Katsouris was keen to point out other recent efforts made by the CTO, including a nature trail suitable for disabled visitors in the Troodos forests that has been in use since last year, which was again funded entirely by the CTO. She also stressed that the implementation of these plans was in addition to the Communications Ministry programme of improving facilities for the disabled throughout the island, which include archaeological sites and other areas of public interest.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Matsakis: I'll call mayor to account over Ayia Napa dump

    By Alex Mita

    DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis has pledged he will be asking Ayia Napa Mayor Varvara Pericleous why she has allowed a municipal rubbish dump to be sited next to a popular beauty spot at Cape Greco.

    In a radio interview with Radio Napa yesterday, Matsakis said the responsibility lay entirely with the local authority and it was up to them to take steps to cure this "cancer" on the area.

    The Ayia Napa Mayor has remained silent on the issue ever since the Cyprus Mail published a story two months ago after furious tourists complained they were lured by a sign promising a nature walk and sea caves and leading instead to a festering, fly infested dump.

    "I'm sure she has not disappeared, she must be around somewhere," Matsakis said.

    "She has to answer these criticisms, which in my view are reasonable, and she will give answers to the House."

    Radio Napa said they had also tried on several occasions to get in touch with the Mayor, but in vain.

    Matsakis said on Saturday that the situation in the area was chaotic and it was a disgrace that tourists visiting the island should come face-to-face with such an abomination.

    The deputy pledged to visit the site and do everything within his power to have it relocated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Government introduces new radiation protection rules

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE LABOUR Ministry has introduced amendments to laws governing health and safety in the workplace, following the passing of the European Radiation Protection Law last month.

    The changes should benefit workers under 18 and pregnant women, for whom exposure to ionized radiation in the workplace can pose particular health risks.

    George Sideras, Director of Labour Inspection at the Labour Ministry, stressed yesterday that existing legislation concerning the protection of young persons and pregnant women had been adapted by the Ministry to bring it into line with new European Union directives regarding radiation levels.

    The amendments have extended the list of "high exposure" jobs prohibited for those under 18. Employers now have an increased responsibility for conducting "risk assessments" regarding the radiation doses young employees may be exposed to. Those affected are mainly in the medical profession or research laboratories.

    The alterations mean that pregnant women and women who breastfeed that are employed in potentially high-risk occupations, will have to be found other positions by employers where possible. Alternatively, they will be paid a 'benefit' by employers until they are able to return to work. The changes come as new European directives have sought to limit further the exposure of pregnant women to radiation doses, by fixing maximum exposure levels.

    Sideras noted that as Cyprus approached entry to the EU, the government had a "political obligation" to update existing laws regarding health and safety in the workplace so as to bring the island into line with the rest of Europe.

    He also stressed that in some instances Cypriot workplace regulations were well advanced, and would remain unchanged following recommendations by the European Parliament.

    But Dr Andreas Georgiadou at the Ministry of Health expressed his dismay concerning the lack of medical assessments carried out to establish the impact of ionized radiation on workers' health. "We are the health specialists yet we do not have the legal authority to carry out health checks on workers," he said.

    The new European Radiation Protection Law is in its infancy, having been introduced in July of this year. The obligatory registration of so-called radiation 'sources' in Cyprus will come into effect on January1 2003. The Labour Ministry is also preparing the terms of a licensing system for the use of radiation sources in accordance with European standards.

    Regarding enforcement of the new measures, Sideras said that the Labour Ministry would continue to inspect workplaces in an effort to ensure that regulations were being adhered to. Worker complaints against employers would also be investigated by the Ministry.

    Sideras stressed that radiation in Cyprus had a "very limited use" largely due to the absence of nuclear power stations on the island. The majority of radiation sources are to be found in medical services, and to a lesser extent in research institutes and industries.

    Nevertheless, Sideras emphasised the need for the island to match the EU's stance on radiation. "We must have legislation in place to control radiation sources in Cyprus, however small the risks from radiation in the workplace here may be," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Food and toxic chemicals don't mix

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE HEALTH and Safety Officer for the Cyprus Port Authority (CPA), Solon Kasinis, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the CPA wanted to take the initiative in Europe by banning the joint storage of food products with dangerous substances on cargo ships.

    Speaking after a spate of incidents and leaks at Limassol port this month, Kasinis said international rules only covered the quantity and time period allowed for port storage of toxic chemicals, but not the conditions of transport.

    Three categories of dangerous substances exist in shipping: very dangerous substances delivered directly to their owner from port; dangerous substances allocated storage space in port warehouses, and common substances like paints.

    According to Kasinis, no regulations cover the shipment of foodstuffs alongside any of the three dangerous categories. The CPA ask shipping agents not to use such methods of transport but Kasinis acknowledged that it was not economically viable for agents to hire two separate containers to ship a small amount of goods.

    Most of the shipments that arrive at Limassol port come from European countries that do not regulate mixed containers, said Kasinis. Mainly Italy, Spain and Holland were concerned, he added. At the next meeting with the various ministries in September, Kasinis said the CPA would suggest to ban the shipment of dangerous chemicals with food-based substances in a group container.

    Although port authorities are notified when a container will contain toxic chemicals, they cannot always prepare for when those chemicals might leak onto other goods placed in the container with them, he said.

    Just two weeks ago, an acid leak at Limassol port mobilised the hazardous materials unit for the second time in 24 hours. Around 15 barrels containing 70 litres of radiator liquid, stored in a container together with raw materials for making biscuits, leaked, sparking an emergency clean- up in the port for a second time in 24 hours. The day before, an electrical transformer which was being unloaded was accidentally knocked, resulting in the leak of around five tonnes of oil.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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