Drug switching affects many patients

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New discount contracts cause changes in pharmaceuticals

The statutory health insurance companies have renegotiated their discount contracts with the pharmaceutical manufacturers. As a result, this can mean for patients that they have to switch to a different preparation for certain medications.

As a rule, the switchover should not be associated with any health disadvantages for the patients, since the active ingredients are the same as in the previous preparations. But when you buy it, it can be a surprise if the pharmacist suddenly reaches into another drawer than before. "Millions of patients currently have to get used to new discount medicines when they redeem prescriptions in their pharmacies," according to the latest announcement by the German Pharmacists' Association (DAV) in Berlin.

Pharmacies implement discount contracts from health insurance companies Some large health insurance companies such as AOK, Barmer GEK or Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) have signed new discount contracts in recent weeks. As a result, millions of patients now have to prepare to receive other than their usual medicines for common diseases such as high blood pressure and the like. Since the statutory health insurance companies have been able to negotiate discounts with the pharmaceutical manufacturers, "the pharmacies are reliably implementing all of the health insurance companies' discount contracts," emphasized DAV chairman Fritz Becker in the current press release. However, Becker also used the occasion for criticism. "There are always problems with the changeover" and "an inappropriate selection of manufacturers can lead to supply bottlenecks in the pharmacy or cause confusion for patients"; the DAV chairman complained.

Quality of care for patients more important than pharmaceutical discounts The head of the German Pharmacists' Association therefore appealed to the health insurance companies: "Put the quality of care of your insured people more at the center of your actions, even if there is a few euros less discount from the industry." The health insurance companies have In recent years, the possibilities of discount contracts have been increasingly used, with the number of corresponding agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers increasing from 9,300 in 2009 to 12,400 in 2010 and 16,400 in 2011. The number of "discounted drugs - measured by their pharmaceutical central numbers (PZN) - rose from 26,900 (2009) and 27,200 (2010) to 28,500 (2011)", according to the press release from the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA). Accordingly, the savings made by health insurance companies have increased significantly in the same period. Statutory health insurance companies saved around 850 million euros in 2009 through the discount contracts, in 2010 the figure was 1.3 billion euros and in 2011 around 1.6 billion euros, according to figures from the Federal Ministry of Health. The DAV chairman complained that the consultancy effort for the pharmacies had increased significantly as a result of the discount contracts and that "this additional service would not be sustainable in the long term without adjusting the remuneration". (fp)

Also read:
Exemption limits for medicinal products 2012
Do not take medication lying down
Over-the-counter medicines are by no means safe

Image: Rita Thielen / pixelio.de

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