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Drugs could get efficiency rating

Health ministry bids to cut consumption of medicines by highlighting those which do not work well

MEDICINES could soon be supplied with a sticker saying how effective they are, as a way to encourage patients to cut back on costly medication – and GPs to stop prescribing them.

The project, revealed by newspaper Le Parisien, has not been confirmed by the health ministry but is said to be in its proposals for 2014.

It comes as a report shows that France’s annual drugs bill has fallen by 0.9% as GPs prescribe cheaper generic drugs and patients reduce consumption. However, the French still take 22% more drugs than their neighbours in Europe.

The new stickers will give information on the service médical rendu (SMR) which highlights if the drug has a “large”, “moderate”, “low” or “insufficient” effect on the condition it has been prescribed for.

These ratings, from the health watchdog Haute Autorité de Santé, also set the level of reimbursement for the medicines. Depending on how effective the drug is, its reimbursement can vary from 65% to zero.

The new stickers, if agreed, will join other signs on drug containers and their conditions of use to give extra information on the contents.

If a medicine has an upside-down black triangle this indicates the drug is on the European watch list for drugs that may have harmful side-effects. This was introduced last September.

Three triangle signs are also used to show possible effects for drivers – with a red triangle warning motorists not to drive while taking the medication. However, a study in 2011 showed that 33% of people never read the information on the box or in the conditions of use leaflet.
Photo: alaasafeit Alaa Hamed

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