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The French way of controlling drug costs

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 22 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1028

As governments search for ways of reducing burgeoning health costs they should watch an experiment introduced in France last year to reduce the annual rise in public expenditure on drugs without affecting health care.

The principle is to encourage economic prescribing and lower drug consumption on a medically sound basis. A convention signed with two of the four organisations that represent France's doctors lays down mandatory prescribing guidelines. By the end of last year these covered 25% of the market for prescription drugs—a figure set to rise to 50% in 1995. In exchange for following these guidelines doctors were awarded a 5% increase in their fees. The carrot has proved so attractive that …

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