Portuguese medicine expenditure in hospitals keeps increasing

August 29, 2013 | By Márcio Barra

Trastuzumab, for the treatment of breast cancer, was the number one oncologic drug Portuguese hospitals spent the most money from January to May 2013

The Portuguese Government spends almost as much money on the NHS hospitals’ expenses with medicines as with the reimbursement of all drugs sold in pharmacies, according to data revealed by the Portuguese Ministry of Health.

The numbers disclosed show that, in 2012, the state spent about $ 2,200 million with drugs, 1.200 million of which with the reimbursement of medicines sold in pharmacies and 1.000 million with medicines provided in hospitals.

While the expenses on drugs sold in pharmacies are in control, thanks to successive price cuts by the Government over the years – just in 2013, about 1.400 brand drugs had mandatory a 7% price discount – the expenses with medicines in hospitals and debts to the Pharmaceutical Industry grew again this year, both in value and in average payments. This upward trend is ongoing for six consecutive months.

In July, the value of accumulated debt rose to 1.251 million and the average payment time increased to 526 days, according to data released yesterday by the Portuguese Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (APIFARMA). Questioned why is the debt increasing even though last year the state used 1,500 million in a debt settlement program, the president of APIFARMA, João Almeida Lopes stated that its due to “chronic underfunding of hospitals, which is not resolved with sudden debt payments but through a structural solution,”

“This is not an unusual or unexpected growth ‘, argues Margaret France, vice president of the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators, noting that it is” very difficult “to reverse the upward trend in drug expenditures in hospitals, where therapeutic innovation comes at a price.



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