Athens, Greece – Public expenditure on pharmaceuticals in Greece is high (compared to other EU countries) and has increased by 73%, from €3 billion in 2005 to €5.2 billion in 2009. Since 2010, cost containment efforts focused on the reduction of public expenditure on pharmaceuticals. Changes in cost-sharing levels, reductions in prices, and generic substitution are some of the measures that were implemented after the second quarter of 2012 to contain pharmaceutical costs.

Researchers from the Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Athens investigated the economic impact of measures on public funds and households in Greece. Τhe data on volume and expenditure for drugs prescribed for each Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification (ATC) and cost-sharing level was derived from the main Social Security Fund (EOPYY) database. A 35% reduction of public pharmaceutical expenditure was reported in Greece between 2012-2013, leading to a potential €1.1 billion savings for EOPYY annually, based on cost-sharing levels and price reductions.

In 2013, only 8% of prescribed drug boxes were provided with 0% co-sharing arrangement, vs 13% in 2012. The cost-sharing burden for pharmaceuticals in 2013 was estimated at 18% vs 13.3% in 2012. The average price per package declined in 2013 by 28%; from €17.8 in 2012 to €12.8 in 2013. Major (more than 50%) savings were achieved in cardiovascular and nervous systems drugs, accounting for almost 60% (in volume) of total pharmaceutical consumption.

“The considerable reduction in pharmaceutical expenditure in Greece was important for the fiscal consolidation of health expenditure after the onset of the crisis; however, extra care must be applied in case the policy overshoots its objectives. Above all else, care must be paid to avoid undue and extreme weight on household budgets which have been severely limited because of the harsh fiscal adjustment.” commented Lycurgus L. Liaropoulos, MSc, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Health Economics at the University of Athens and former Member of the Minister’s Expert Committee on the Memorandum of Understanding between Greece, and the EU, ECB and IMF Troika.

The full study, “Investigating the Economic Impacts of New Public Pharmaceutical Policies in Greece: Focusing on Price Reductions and Cost-Sharing Rates,” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues.

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