Italy looks at small packs to cut waste

Related tags Pharmacy Pharmacology Pharmaceutical drug

The budget committee of Italy's Lower House of Parliament has
approved a plan by the opposition to require the national medicines
agency, the AIFA, to draw up a method of establishing 'optimal'
packaging for drugs to treat major diseases, reports the official
AGI news agency.

The aim is to combat waste in the pharmaceutical sector via the use of smaller medicine packages, to 'optimise dosage' and prevent unneeded medicines being discarded.

The AIFA is to "indicate the medicines which doctors may prescribe in pilot packages, in order to avoid waste and higher costs, and check how efficient a medicine is and how much of it can be tolerated. Thus, it will be possible to draw up a list of medicines which can be sold in smaller packages."​.

The move comes as Italy has revealed that expenditure on medicines is expected to exceed the allotted 2004 quota by €1.48 billion. This is a 14.87 per cent budget overshoot, and is worse than the 13 per cent predicted earlier in the year.

Overall drug costs will be €12.1 billion, with 60 per cent of the amount in excess of the set quota (€860m) to be footed by the government. The remaining 40 per cent will have to be covered by the regional governments.

To compensate for the excess, the Italian government has said it will raise discounts on public drug batches from 4.12 per cent - the level approved in June 2004 - up to 4.43 per cent and will also revise the wholesale cost of drugs.

Italy's association of pharmacists, the MLNF, said that the answer to Italy's spiralling medicines budget is to de-regulate the pharmacy sector to impart some much-needed price competition into the marketplace. The current system of capping the number of pharmacies allowed in a region should be abolished, and pharmacists should be free to set their own prices for medicines, it said.

Related topics Drug Delivery

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