Spain urged to double generic prescriptions

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

In response to stringent price cuts introduced in Spain, the European Generics Association (EGA) is urging the Spanish government to adopt mechanisms that will help increase the dispensing of generic medicines.

In response to stringent price cuts introduced in Spain, the European Generics Association (EGA) is urging the Spanish government to adopt mechanisms that will help increase the dispensing of generic medicines. The country's latest cost-cutting measures came into effect after the country adopted the Real Decreto de Raconalizacion del Gastro Farmaceutico (RDL4/2010) in March 2010, and have sharply reduced the prices of both branded and generic medicines. In some instances, the price of generic medicines has fallen by up to 30%.

In a letter to Trinidad Jiménez, Spain's health and social policy minister, the EGA said that the price-cutting measures were: "harsh, stringent and put in danger the economic sustainability of the Spanish Generic Medicines Association's (AESEG) member companies, especially SMEs".

Jiménez has admitted that additional measures are needed to help boost the sales of generic medicines. In the letter, the EGA says: "The objective would be to double generic penetration in Spain over the next 3 years. The price cuts can therefore be compensated by a compromise solution from the Spanish Government, aimed at increasing generic medicines sales."

Currently, Spain lags behind other European countries, such as Germany and the UK, when it comes to using generic medicines. According to the EGA, the full benefits of generic medicines can only be delivered if greater importance is placed on increasing volume use rather than simply focusing on price.

As such, the EGA has suggested that the Spanish government introduce mechanisms that influence the prescribing and dispensing behaviour of physicians and pharmacists in Spain, including:

  • Offer financial incentives to doctors to prescribe affordable generic medicines and ensure that pharmacists are rewarded for dispensing generic medicines, particularly since it is currently not economically attractive for pharmacists to dispense generic medicines in some markets due to their low price.
  • Establishing systems that are based on budgetary incentives, allocating prescription budgets to physicians and granting them the discretion to use those savings to prescribe more expensive treatments where necessary.
  • Direct campaigns at Spanish citizens that inform them of the quality of generic medicines.

The EGA concludes the letter by emphasising the importance of encouraging generic penetration to compensate for the price cuts. The letter says: "In order for the sector to survive, we support AESEG’s position that generic medicines need to reach in the next 3 years a penetration rate of at least 50%, as is the case in other mature markets."