The pilot introduction of an e-prescription system has slashed spending on pharmaceuticals at the OAEE social insurance fund for the self-employed by roughly 70 percent, OAEE governor Gerassimos Voudouris told a Parliamentary committee on Wednesday. He also noted that, for the first time in several years, the fund would have a surplus of some 30 million euro.

Until the introduction of the system in October 2010, doctors collaborating with OAEE had been writing out roughly 300,000 prescriptions a month with an average monthly cost of 25 million euros, Voudouris said. Between October and December 2010, by contrast, spending on pharmaceuticals had dropped by 73.4 percent relative to the same period in 2008 and a reduction in prescription medication had resulted in a 70 percent reduction in the sums received by big pharmaceutical companies.

As examples, Voudouris cited the discovery through the system of 15 doctors that in the space of just two months had written out more than 150,000 prescriptions each - leading to the launch of an administrative inquiry - or the slashing of sums received by a specific pharmaceutical company from 16 million euro in 2008 to just five million euro in 2011.

The fund chief also announced planned changes to the administrative organisation of OAEE, starting with the pilot operation of the first centre using the new organisational plan in Pireos Street, in order to reduce operational costs.

Another major problem faced by the fund, according to Voudouris, was non-payment of contributions that had led to OAEE being owed three billion euro. He stressed this was not entirely linked to the economic crisis, since at least 300,000 of those that had not paid had been debtors in excess of five years, before the crisis began.

Voudouris noted that roughly one third of this amount would be almost impossible to collect, since the individuals involved had ceased business activity, but that left two billion that could be collected at short order.

He was upbeat about OAEE's future prospects, noting that those insured by OAEE were mostly below 50 years old, giving the fund room to manoeuvre and adapt, and that 570,000 of its 800,000 members had paid up their contributions for this year, creating the 30 million euro budget surplus.