Medicines: How much Greek patients paid out of pocket in 2022


The total amount paid out of pocket by Greeks in 2022 for medicines amounted to 1.7 billion euros. The public funding for drugs for years has now led the private contribution (pharmaceutical industry and patients) to a higher level.

The latest figures show that the amount the pharmaceutical industry and patients spent exceeded the public pharmaceutical expenditure – excluding hospitals.

The uncertainties created in the field of medicine in recent years are reflected once again in the annual report "The Pharmaceutical Market in Greece: Facts and Figures 2022", prepared by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), with the cooperation of the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies Greece (SFEE).

The results of the report were presented yesterday at a special event.

As highlighted during the event, demographic developments must determine the strategy and financing policies of health and medicine spending in the coming years.

In more detail, life expectancy is high, although reduced by 1.5 years compared to 2020 due to the pandemic (80.2 years in Greece in 2021, 80.1 in the EU27), deaths have increased compared to births by 64,300 people (2022) – the biggest increase in recent years – and the population over 65 is expected from 22.9% of the total population in 2022 to reach 33.5% in 2060.

At the same time, the percentage of the population aged 16 and over with a chronic health problem is increasing from 2018 until 2022, reaching 24.9%. In addition, the percentage of the population over 65 with multiple chronic diseases in Greece is 40%, higher than the average of EU countries (36%).

The disappointing data above led to a significant rise in private health costs.

As a private expenditure on the part of the patients, to calculate their contribution to the total spending, their institutionalised participation and the burden resulting from the difference between the retail price and the reimbursement price are taken into account. The total of these two is 689 million euros.

However, there are also out-of-pocket (direct) payments that raise the total cost of patients to an inconceivable level.

This category includes Non-Prescription Medicines (non-prescription medicines), those on a negative list (i.e. not reimbursed by the state), and drugs that are returned and the patient chose to pay 100% for them. Significantly, the latter exceeds 500 million euros for 2022.

Result? A private expenditure of 1.7 billion euros in total.

At a high clawback and rebate level

Public funding (hospital and outpatient) for the drug amounted to 2.6 billion euros in 2021, maintaining the same levels as last year, while a marginal increase in public funding is expected to be 2.7 billion euros for 2022.

On the contrary, the amount of mandatory refunds the pharmaceutical industry asked to pay in 2021 amounted to 2.4 billion euros, compared to 2.0 billion euros in 2020.

According to calculations, for 2022 and for the first time in history, it is estimated that the total of the mandatory refunds of the pharmaceutical industry will exceed public funding for the drug.

However, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Greek economy. It is characteristic that the production of medicines in Greece in 2022 reached "record" levels, approaching 1.9 billion euros.

Pharmacobiomania for drug shortages

Pharmaceutical company representatives addressed the issue of drug shortages, advocating greater transparency. As they said, from 2016, the companies are obliged to declare daily to the EOF what they sell.

They need to be in a position to know, as SFEE representatives stated if this data is controlled. However, they said that all the "links" in the chain must declare details of the drugs they traffic.

In addition, they clarified how an ellipse is defined. As they pointed out, when a pharmacy does not have a preparation when a citizen requests it, it does not mean there is a shortage of this preparation.

Accordingly, they opposed the... obsession in several cases with the trade name of drugs, saying that there are several generics for many drugs when the original is missing.

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