Friday, August 04, 2006

French lead in drugs consumption

According to a recent study of the structure and evolution of the five main EU pharmaceutical markets, the French spend the most on drugs per inhabitant, 284 euros annually, followed by the Germans (244 euros) and the British, Italians and Spanish (around 200 euros each). The French also consume the most medicines in quantities.

The drugs sales increased in all countries and, in total, these five countries counted for 70 billion euros in pharmaceutical sales in 2004. According to the study, conducted by the French Ministry of Health, the increase in turnover was mainly due to increased average price of medicines, around 10% in France and Germany between 2003-2004. The drugs for treating cardiovascular disease get the biggest market share in all five countries, around 25%, followed by medicines for treating the nervous and the digestive systems.

According to the study, the medicines are the cheapest in the UK, due to high generic drugs penetration and to parallel imports, whereas the medicines are, on average, the most expensive in Italy. Germany leads in consumption of generic drugs, which cast up for 22,7% of the pharmaceutical sales.

In some EU countries there has been a shift in national policies to promote the prescribtion of generic drugs as part of overall healthcare reforms to cut costs. In France, for example, doctors who sign up to an agreement with social insurance are required to prescribe cheaper medicines, a proportion of which must be generics.