Several pharmacists in germany currently have worry lines on their foreheads when they look at their business accounts: there is considerable turbulence at a major pharmacy accounting center in dusseldorf. Pharmacists have been waiting for days for six-figure sums in some cases.
In data centers, the avp company handles the payment transactions of thousands of pharmacies in germany with the health insurance companies. It submits bundled prescriptions to the health insurers and forwards the amounts from the health insurers to the pharmacies – at least until recently.
According to avp, restructuring is behind the problems, which have not gone smoothly. This is what it says in a circular letter from avp to its customers, which is available to the deutsche presse-agentur.
There it says: "the last few days have been very turbulent and the news about avp has been overwhelming. A large number of them therefore have the worst fears for their well-earned money, also because competitors use these rumors emotionally to their own advantage."
In the meantime, the financial services regulator bafin has intervened and is examining the processes. "This factoring institute is subject to our supervision," a spokesman said in response to a question in bonn on tuesday. However, details could not be disclosed due to the obligation of confidentiality. According to financial market sources, bafin has even sent a special representative to the company.
"The payments for your prescriptions are safely on their way," avp meanwhile promises in the circular from shareholder mathias wettstein. According to the news portal "apotheke adhoc", wettstein has explained the restructuring in more detail: according to him, it is a question of IT problems caused by a change of service provider – but a number of pharmacists now doubt this.
"There are about 3500 pharmacies hanging on by a thread," a pharmacist from north rhine-westphalia", who does not want to be named, tells dpa. So far, he has received neither a payment on account nor reasonable information: "hopefully, there will not be a second wirecard in the making."
Avp, meanwhile, is trying to spread confidence: "in the meantime, we have solved many tasks and are in the process of making up for the last few days with all our strength."At the same time, the company admits to errors, especially in communication: "we apologize formally for the entire incident."
The company could not be reached for further comment. In the meantime, the public prosecutor’s office in dusseldorf has submitted an inquiry about avp to the bafin. According to the current status, however, there is no investigation, says a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office.
Bernhard bellinger, tax consultant and lawyer in dusseldorf, has many pharmacists as clients: "avp pays to the rough billing centers with probably about 3500 customers. That would be about one fifth of the german market. The amounts involved are substantial. That’s quite possibly up to 400,000 euros per pharmacy that’s outstanding – probably around 120,000 euros on average," says bellinger.
"Pharmacies affected by late payments are threatened with insolvency in the worst case," he reports on tuesday. "There are said to have been down payments, but the majority of our clients say: "we have received nothing at all"."
The market is now very suspicious, especially since avp has not yet produced any debit vouchers. Bellinger’s advice to the company: "they should put a certificate from their house bank on the net that the business account is not blocked and that the transfer order from avp has been completely executed by the bank in the meantime. This was unbeatable as a confidence-building measure."
Morton douglas, a lawyer in freiburg, represents a number of pharmacists and doesn’t want to break the baton on avp just yet, but: "at the moment, the biggest problem is the lack of communication," he says.