Availability of medicines in the European Union: results from the EURO-Medicines project
Objective: There is at present no comprehensive directory of medicines available in European countries. Such a directory would be valuable to policy analysts, clinicians, regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical companies and consumer groups. The aim of this project was to compile such a directory of all medicines marketed in each of the European Union member countries. Methods: Lists of medicines for each country, compiled from several national sources, classified by Anatomical-Chemical-Therapeutic (ATC) code. Census date was late 1998. Results: A comprehensive directory was created using data from 14 of the 15 European Union countries. Numbers of trade names and of active ingredients varied widely, from Germany with 18,554 and 1973, respectively, to Denmark with 1915 and 1016, respectively. In individual therapeutic areas, there were variations in the numbers of active ingredients available: the least variation between countries was in antineoplastic medicines (ATC code L, maximum number available in any country 101, minimum 60) and wider variation in alimentary (ATC code A, maximum 256, minimum 103) or cardiovascular (ATC code C, maximum 269, minimum 112). Only 7% of all the active ingredients were available in all the countries studied. The Scandinavian countries had the greatest proportion of active ingredients (60%) available in all other countries. Each country had a number of active ingredients available only in that country – Italy had the largest number of these. Conclusions: The directory illustrates the wide variations in the availability of medicines across the European Union. The range of drugs available in each country represents differences in regulatory and market policies, as well as cultural and historic differences. This directory lends itself to many further analyses.