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French spending less on medicines

Report highlights that increased generic drug use has lowered costs – but overall health expenses up 2.2%

DESPITE spending on medical expenses rising 2.2% last year French people are still spending less on medecines than a decade ago – with more generics being bought.

Each resident spent an average of €2,843 on healthcare for a total of €186.7billion over 2013, with spending on medicines again being down 1.3% after a 1.2% drop in 2012.

In general, medicine prices fell from 2012-13 due to the forced rise in the use of generic drugs. These are now given automatically by pharmacies unless doctors specify the original “princeps” drug or the patient pays for the original and reclaims the cost.

Generic drug use has risen over the past decade and from 4.1% of the medicines dispensed in 2002 it has now hit 18.1%. They are now substituted in 82% of possible cases.

One of the major plus points of the new report on health spending by the Drees statistics body is that spending on non-reimbursable drugs has fallen by 1.8% - the first fall since 2005. These drugs are no longer reimbursed because they have little or no positive medical effect.

However, Drees noted that French health spending in 2012 was still 22% higher than in neighbouring countries.
Photo: Maria Brzostowska -

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