Oct 09, 2002
By Rosella Lorenzi
Many essential drugs might disappear from the Italian market if the 2003 finance bill is approved, the pharmacist association Federfarma warned on Wednesday.
According to Federfarma, a "subtle mechanism" in the draft finance bill would prevent pharmacists from buying essential and expensive drugs, such as recombinant anti-hemophilic factor VIII products, interferons for treating multiple sclerosis and some types of cancer, and growth hormone.
In a controversial article, the finance bill adds together two separate formulas currently used in calculating reimbursement to pharmacists. The first one establishes that the profit margin has to be on a sliding scale, decreasing as the drug price increases. The second one requires discounts to the national health system on the price of reimbursed drugs, in increments depending on the price range.
The combination of these two factors will mean that "pharmacists will not receive any money for certain drugs," Dr. Giorgio Siri, the president of Federfarma, told Reuters Health. "In some cases, they will even suffer losses, as they will have to buy drugs at a higher price than the reimbursed amount."
The pharmacist association believes the government found "a creative way to save money and cut the list of totally reimbursed drugs," and promises to begin a campaign to inform citizens.
"This is going to be a big problem for patients, especially those with
serious diseases. We are not threatening anyone, we are simply warning
of a logical consequence of this measure," Siri said. "Nobody can force
pharmacists to go into debt because they have to buy drugs for 100 and
then sell them for 95."
© 2002 Reuters Ltd