Background Time is that wherein there is opportunity, and opportunity is that wherein there is no great time. Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity (Hippocrates, Precepts Part 1)
Access to medicines, apart for its social dimension as a human right, has also had a great impact on financial issues since ancient time. With the rise in life expectancy the cost of treating many progressive degenerative and chronic diseases is tending towards a tremendous increase as well. New biotechnological methods in drug preparation claim long-term research and high financial investments resulting in very expensive medicines.
In response to the social demand for unlimited health budgets it is estimated that medicines expenditure is increasing annually by 5% in western countries. The growing use of generics could be considered a means of controlling the rising cost of healthcare.
Purpose To investigate alternative ways to cope with medicines shortages due to the financial crisis. Many pharmaceutical companies are requiring direct payment in order to supply their products. It is imperative to ensure that the patients will really take the drug treatment prescribed by their physicians.
Materials and Methods The reduction in the cost of medicines in Aretaieio University Hospital, Athens, Greece, during 2011 by the use of generics was estimated.
our pharmacy software data regarding medicines use in the hospital wards
data on prescription modification in cases of shortages, always in cooperation with the medical staff
data on official lower prices (competition between providers of generics or biosimilars)
Results Cost reductions were estimated at between 5–10% for contrast media (Radiology Department), and much more than 50% for antibiotics (Surgical, Obstetrics – Gynaecology, Paediatric Departments).
Conclusions Use of generics could be considered a means to control the rising healthcare costs. On the other hand medicines availability in Greece not only in hospitals but also in community pharmacies has become problematic for two main reasons: 1. the policy of reducing the prices of prescription drugs, leading to medicines’ shortagse due to exports to other countries and 2. large pharmaceutical companies demanding direct payment, which is impossible under current financial conditions.
No conflict of interest.
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