Total drug expenditure in Portugal in 2012 was the lowest in five years

February 12, 2013 | By Márcio Barra

The Portuguese Ministry of Health and Infarmed announced yesterday, in their report “Análise do Mercado de Medicamentos, em Ambulatório – dezembro 2012″ (Analysis of the Outpatient Pharmaceutical Market – December 2012), that total drug expenditures by users and the National Health Service (NHS) in 2012 were the lowest in five years.

Substantial savings occurred in 2012 compared to 2011. The total drug market had an 2,5% increase in the number of medicines consumed, with more 5,8 million drug packages sold compared to 2011, while saving 343 million euros (-11.7%). That is, the Portuguese people consumed more drugs while saving significantly on their spending in pharmacies.

Within the medicines reimbursed by the NHS, the report also shows noticeable savings even with a clear increase in the number of drug packages consumed: user’s saved110 million euros (down 15% from 2011) in 2012 and the NHS spared 151 million (down 11% from 2011) in 2012. The user’s total savings in drug expenditures in 2012 are estimated to be over 190 million euros.

In regards to the generic drug market, the overall average price has been falling steadily since the second semester of 2010, until November and December where a slight, non-significant increase occurred. In December 2012, the average price was 6,70€, down 65% from December 2007.

This translated into an increase in the generic drug market share by volume of 21.6% in 2011 to 25% in 2012, and a decrease in the market share in value of 18.2% to 16.6 %.

As for the drug classes, the Portuguese total sales market is spearheaded by renin-angiotensin drugs, oral anti diabetics and  lipid lowering drugs, with a market share of 23,6 % in sales total (approximately 614 million euros).  Rosuvastatin is the market leader in worth, followed by Metformin + Vildagliptin and Metformin + Sitagliptin.

As for total volume of sales, the market is led by paracetamol, followed by acetylsalicylic acid.

The ministry of health stated that the savings that occurred in 2012 are due to:

  • Changes on how the medicines are priced, with new rules for how Portugal chooses the European Countries with the lowest prices for reference
  • Encouragements to the generic market, which led to an increase of their market share, (they now represent a quarter of all packaging market and 35% of medicines reimbursed by the NHS).
  • DCI prescription (patients can choose the brand of the active substance)


Ministry of health

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