Strong increase in drug expenditure in March
The Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA) announced a sharp increase in drug expenditure for March 2020, as reported by the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI). Even without taking vaccines into account, expenditures rose by 25 % to 3.84 billion euros compared to the same month last year (March 2019). This is due to a 13.7 % increase in the number of prescriptions and an 11.8 % increase in packages sold. There is also a noticeable trend towards larger package sizes, which contribute to the increased expenditure. The figures represent the SHI payments to pharmacies, including VAT, after deduction of discounts from manufacturers and pharmacies and patient co-payments. Discount agreements were not considered. For the first quarter of 2020, pharmaceutical expenditure totalled 10.38 billion euros, almost 12 % more than in the same quarter of the previous year.
Vaccination expenditure also rose dramatically in March, reaching a total of 153 million euros for the first quarter of 2020, around 43 % more than in the first quarter of 2019.
Although no official data were available for April at the time of reporting, pharmacies reported about declining drug sales for the month of April. This sharp rise in costs in March and the presumed decline in April suggest, in addition to increased acute care, a habit of doctors of chronically ill patients in March seeking to reduce the frequency of doctor visits during the corona pandemic, to protect their vulnerable patients.
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