OPINION

Bring back the list

It was only to be expected that the deregulation of pharmaceutical prices would lead to higher drug spending and that low-price medicines would sooner or later be replaced by similar, albeit more expensive, products. All the players involved – from the patients to the doctors and the companies – have a preference for higher-priced medicines: patients because they feel safer when buying a pricier product, drug makers because they increase their profits. Given the high drug consumption rate among Greeks, the problem is of some magnitude. The motives behind the government’s move to abolish the official list of prescription drugs are not quite clear. However, it should have become obvious by now that the measure has been a failure. It has allowed private companies to squander state money, but the benefits for the insured are less clear. Spending by social security funds is rising sharply, further widening the deficit of an already unsustainable pension system. The government has no other option but to reintroduce the list as soon as possible.