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Monitoring expenditure and utilization of medicinal products in the European Union countries: a Public Health approach

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/13.suppl_1.95 95-100 First published online: 1 September 2003


Background: There is uncertainty about the level of utilization and expenditure for medicines in the European Union (EU), making assessment of their impact on public health difficult. Our aim is to develop indicators to monitor price, expenditure and utilization of medicinal products in the EU, so as to facilitate comparisons. Methods: There are four major tasks. Task 1: To catalogue data sources and available data in each EU Member State. Task 2: To assess the reliability and comparability of data among the EU Member States by ATC/DDD on country coverage, reimbursement, prescriptions, price category (e.g. wholesale, hospital, retail) and private versus public spending. Task 3: To develop Standard Operating Procedures for data management and to define clearly the proposed indicators in terms of objective, definition, description, rationale, and data collection. Task 4: To pool, compare and report the validated data according to the established indicators, using cardiovascular medicines as an example. Results: Preliminary results from Tasks 1 and 2 are available and demonstrate the methodological difficulties in comparing data from different countries. Multiple data sources must be used. These cover different populations, and refer to different prices or costs. Nevertheless, useful data can be derived, illustrated by the example of lipid lowering medicines. The data shows that only five products are commonly available in all countries. Even when a medicine is available in all countries, there may be substantial differences in packages, which can hinder comparison. Data on utilization of statins shows high usage in Scandinavian countries and least in Italy. Conclusion: The preliminary results of EURO-MED-STAT show wide differences in availability, and use of medicines across Europe that may have substantial implications for public health.

  • ATC/DDD, cardiovascular medicines, medicinal products, utilization