Friday, 17 August 2012

Ministry publishes full list of 417 medicines it will no longer finance

Savings of €450 million
MADRID (Europa Press) Today's BOE (Boletín Oficial del Estado, Official State Bulletin) today publishes the complete, exact list of the 417 medicines it will no longer finance after September 1. Sources at the Ministry of Health say that it will save €450m. Well known brands such as 'Almax', 'Pectox', 'Hemorrane', 'Fortasec', 'Acetil Cisteína' o 'Mucosan' will have to be paid for in full by the consumer. According to the Ministry, these medications will be replaced by other, more up-to-date ones,  and in many cases by generics that contain the same specifications as the brands they replace, but are much cheaper to purchase (see example below). These measures are not at all unusual in the Spanish health system and happen every ten to fifteen years or so, but cause much concern among patients who are used to taking their 'usual' medicines. Primary health care personnel, including doctors, have been carrying out in-surgery explanations to their worried patients for some time.>>>
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The Minister for Health, Ana Mato, says that this measure will allow the inclusion of "latest generation medicines to cover serious illnesses." Therefore, adds Mato, "non-essential medication is eliminated [from the list] and we can thus ensure access to the right medicines for those whose lives are in danger, without regard to cost." She says that her ministry has given the green light to some 1,000 new medicines for the list in the first half of this year.

The measure has given rise to much public alarm, but the fact is that the list of medicines no longer to be financed by the health service, is largely made up of out of date brands.

As an example, a well known brand of Ibuprofen that costs close to €8 for 28 pills, without a prescription, which is to be replaced by a generic brand that costs under €2. In both cases, the patient would have to pay a percentage towards it (this has already gone up considerably - see Do you know how much your medication is going to cost?) but the cost to the ministry is considerably less.

The ministry also adds, in a communiqué on the subject, that while the doctor camn still pñrescribe the medicines on the list if he or she thinks it appropriate, but these will have to be paid in full by the patient.

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