Pharmacy loyalty bonuses in Slovakia are to end, as the Health Ministry is re-introducing a ban on loyalty schemes and also instituting a rule that one person can receive a licence to provide health care treatment only at one public pharmacy, reads the amendment to the Medications Act that was passed by 78 votes in parliament on Wednesday, December 5. Providing it is signed by the president, the legislation will come into effect as of January 2, 2013.
According to the Health Ministry, loyalty bonuses represented a marketing measure that was undermining the professional and health-care nature of pharmacies. Also, the bill is to usher in more stringent criteria for pharmacy guarantors and curb the export of medications.
The governing Smer party was accused of launching price hikes for medications by Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) MP Ivan Uhliarik, Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP Viliam Novotný and Most-Híd MP Tibor Baštrnák. "The fact that this piece of legislation is passed means that drugs will become more expensive. The key thing to observe here is that the government and Smer lawmakers are abolishing the system that set the second lowest prices for medications in EU. From now on, not only patients but also health insurers will have to pay more for drugs," said Uhliarik, as quoted by the TASR newswire. According to him, health insurers will now spend more money on medications and less on health-care treatments for patients and doctors’ salaries. Uhliarik, a former health minister, claimed that the measure was designed specifically to allow pharmaceutical companies to line their pockets.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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