Consumption of medicine decreased in Slovakia during the pandemic

For the first time in years, medicinal consumption decreased in 2020, health insurers report.

(Source: Unsplash)

After a period of year-on-year increases in consumption, the Slovak National Centre for Health Information (NCZI) registered a decrease in financial reimbursements for medicinal consumption last year.

In 2020, people in Slovakia spent €1.8 billion on medicine, NCZI spokesperson Alžbeta Sivá said, as reported by the SITA newswire.

Of this sum, subsidies from health insurance companies took a lion’s share of €1.4 billion, representing a 5-percent decrease from 2019. The largest financial item from these expenses, coming in at a sum of € 1.2 billion, are subsidies for prescription medicine and medicine paid for by public health insurance.

Insurance companies registered a year-on-year decrease in subsidies for medicine distributed by hospital pharmacies for partner and non-partner hospitals at a rate of about 16 percent. Subsidies for distribution from public pharmacies to non-governmental clinics increased twofold. Subsidies paid out to patients dropped by 1.6 percent; Slovaks paid over €438 million for medicine in 2020.

Medicinal consumption recorded in units sold dropped by about 5 percent. From a total amount of 149 units of distributed medicine, the majority share was medicine completely or partially subsidised by public insurance, surpassing 61 percent.

Over-the-counter purchases represented about 25 percent of sold units and more than 7 percent of medicine was medicine sold to hospitals and non-governmental clinics. The number of units sold without any public subsidies represented the smallest share of medicine at 6.5 percent of all units sold.

The aggregate consumption of medicine was influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. With the first quarter, short-term consumption of medicine increased in comparison to 2019, likely spurred by individuals stockpiling medicine for long-term use and for preventing Covid infections.

Consumption subsided in the second quarter. In Q3, when the government eased lockdowns, medicinal consumption reached similar consumption levels to 2019. In Q4, with worsening infection rates and more lockdowns, medicinal consumption decreased once more.

A similar trend was seen in the pharmaceutical industries of other countries.

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