Price of some drugs in Hungary to rise 30%for patients

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 27 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:556
  1. Carl Kovac
  1. Budapest

    Patients taking prescription drugs in Hungary are facing a double blow: domestic manufacturers are raising their prices by 10%and the government is cutting its subsidies to consumers.

    Certain medicines will be put out of reach of patients with low incomes, such as pensioners, forcing them to stop taking necessary medication, according to officials from the Hungarian Doctors” Association and health ministry.

    In the past, the National Health Fund Association, which subsidises 80%of Hungary's drug expenses, has met domestic and foreign pharmaceutical firms annually to negotiate the prices of about 4000prescription drugs.

    Negotiations are not being held this year, however, and the government has imposed a limit of 123bn Hungarian forint (£336m; $549m) on drug expenditure.

    In the face of the clampdown, foreign companies have accepted a price increase of 3%but domestic firms, lamenting shrinking revenue, plan to go ahead with a 10%hike announced last year.

    Because of the National Health Fund cap, patients will have to meet any price increases, paying up to one third more for domestically produced drugs.

    Laszlo Buzas, the president of the Association of Hungarian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, argues that, even with the increases, the prices of domestically produced drugs will remain well below those of imported medications.

    The health ministry estimates that, currently, more than one fifth, of patients are unable to pay for prescribed medications at pharmacies.

    Dr Geza Gyenes, the secretary general of the Hungarian Doctors” Association, said that the price increases could result in some patients, who are unable to pay for all their prescribed medicines, changing their drug consumption habits, which could prove dangerous.

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