January 4, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
The current Portuguese drug pricing system will change starting 2014, as approved by the Council of Ministers this Thursday, January 03. The current system is based on an annual review of the drug prices by comparison with the average prices of the reference countries Spain, Italy and Slovakia. When the drug prices in these three countries are lower than Portugal, the prices here go down. If the prices are higher, the Portuguese prices stay the same.
Now, not only the drug prices can change, but also the reference countries. France will replace Italy, and the Ministry of Health will be responsible to annually renew which countries are the reference countries till November 15th of each year. This change was justified by the Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers Presidency as to allow Portugal to have the reference countries that allow the lowest drug prices possible for consumers.
The Council of Ministers also decided that this method of drug pricing will be applied to drugs that are hospital exclusive, that is, those not available for sale to the general public. Up until now, these prices were defined only by the pharmaceutical industry.
This is another in a series of measures for containing drug expenses and lowering drug prices in Portugal, which have been severely criticized by both industry and pharmacies for harming profits and hampering the traditional drug sales circuit.