Change in prescribing patterns of general practitioners in Italy before and after the Reform Drug Act
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As of 1 January 1994, the introduction of a new classification of the drugs to be reimbursed by the National Health Service was approved by the Italian parliament in order to limit expenditure on pharmaceutical agents. This has set off a ‘cultural revolution’, unprecedented in Italy. The criteria that inspired the expert group charged with attributing drugs to different classes (Class A: essential, free of charge drugs; Class B: drugs to be paid for 50% by the patient; Class C: drugs to be paid entirely by the patient) were principally scientific rather than merely economic or administrative. Expectedly, the creation of Class C (drugs not reimbursed by the National Health Service on account of their insufficiently proven clinical effectiveness, or their unfavourable cost/benefit ratio with respect to therapeutically equivalent agents) has provoked remarkable changes in general practitioners' prescription options, particularly given the fact that many of these drugs were among the most prescribed in Italy. A database including the prescriptions of about 940 general practitioners, dispensed through the 280 community pharmacies of the city of Turin, has been analysed for a comparative sample of time periods in 1993 and 1994, in order to quantify the changes that occurred and to qualify them with respect to more relevant therapeutic groups and sentinel drugs.
KeywordsCosts and cost analysis Formularies Italy Legislation Pharmacoepidemiology Prescriptions, drug
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