Many common medicines and painkillers, such as Aspirin, Paracetomal, Almax, Fortasec, Neobrufen, Voltaren, Mucosan and Efferalgan, are no longer to be prescribed by doctors and charged to the national health service.
These are extremely common drugs and can already be bought over the counter at low cost, but until now doctors have also included them as prescriptions, meaning that the health service has covered at least 60% of the cost to patients, and often all of it (in the case of pensioners). Now that the need to save money has been recognized, it will be the patients who pay for these everyday medicines.
The Ministry of Health is now working on a new classification of medicines which will receive no public financing, and their estimates are that total sales of these substances currently total around 600 million euros per year. The Ministry hopes to make a saving of 560.13 million euros, meaning effectively that on average each person in Spain will receive about twelve euros per year less from the health service in treatment.
This may seem harsh, but it should be borne in mind that until now Spain has been the most generous country in the EU in terms of financing the cost of medicine for its citizens and residents.
Over 75% of prescribed medicines and 90% of those used in hospitals are subsidized to at least some degree, and some would say that the Ministry’s new measures will encourage a more responsible use of common medicines among the population as a whole, as well as encouraging the distribution of smaller doses, as it is quite common to be given a large boxful of medication, when in fact a box a quarter of the size would deal with the complaint being treated at the time.
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