SPAIN’S national health authority has reduced the prices of 16,000 types of medication – over-the-counter, prescription and hospital dispensary drugs – which will save the public around €118.5 million a year.
The cost to the end consumer will come down from November 1, which is a public holiday in Spain.
They include OTC drugs such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol, the stomach-protector and proton-pump inhibitor Omeprazole, and prescription medication such as antibiotic Amoxicillin and tranquilliser and sleeping pill Lorazepam.
Most of these have now dropped to an average of between €1 and €2, although 20 paracetamol pills of 650mg now only cost 55 cents.
Laboratories will start distributing drugs at the new, lower price from tomorrow (Friday), and these will gradually reduce in pharmacies until October 31, after which they will all drop down to the new prices.
Nearly three-quarters of the cost saved to the health system will be on medicines that come from hospital dispensaries, which are typically stronger, more specialist, produced in much lesser quantities, or very expensive.
These drugs have always been free of charge to the patients, but as the laboratories will be charging less for them, the saving is passed onto the health system.
The remaining saving of €39m will be shared between the patient and the health service.
This is because drugs prescribed by a doctor, unlike OTC medication, are sold to patients at a set percentage of their actual cost – ranging from 10% to 50% depending upon the type of medicine and the patient’s income – whilst these same drugs, where they are available without a prescription or on the instructions of a doctor in the private sector, are paid for by the customer at full price.
It is estimated that, overall, consumers will save about €5.31m a year.