ECONOMY

State moves to change drug pricing method to trim excessive spending

A plan to revise the way drugs are priced is under consideration by the General Secretariat of Trade (GGE). The move has been prompted by the fact that over the past two years, owing to the process for drug repricing, some -79 million has been wasted by the state. To make drug pricing more effective, the state is seriously looking into determining prices by the average of the three lowest levels applicable in three other EU member states. This requires that the specific drug be available in at least five other EU member states. The rule so far has been the so-called «2+1,» meaning that the average price of drugs used in Greece were taken from two old EU member states and one new one. The GGE plan also envisages the reduction by 20 percent in the price of drugs upon expiration of their patent. Speaking during a one-day meeting on health issues held in Athens yesterday, GGE general secretary Dimitris Skiadas said that the initially high drug prices were the result of the high-priced drugs recorded especially in the EU’s 10 new member states. Nonetheless, Skiadas admitted that the current pricing system is generally acceptable and contributes to easy access to medication by citizens, but it has certain inefficiencies, including repricing. Each year, he said, pursuant to applicable legislation, drug prices are reviewed, set and verified on the basis of data provided by companies and agencies and other data collected by the GGE. In 2006 and 2007, the repricing procedure on drugs cost the state -32 million and -47 million respectively. Referring to drug legislation, Skiadas said that the highest price of a drug must not exceed its lowest selling price in any EU member state.