According to the national report drawn up by the National Observatory on the use of medicine in Italy in 2018, the total amount of public and private pharmaceutical drug consumption totaled 20.781 million euros, 1% less than the previous year. Of this 20 million (including regional co-pays and differences between in prices of off-patent drugs and corresponding reference prices) co-pays amounted to 8.379 million euros, 3.8% higher than in 2017. This increase can be attributed to the changing prices of pharmaceuticals. However, considering prices for first tier prescription drugs (classe A) decreased, then prices for second tier prescription drugs (classe C) increased by 23.1% since 2004.
The consumption of medicine varies drastically in each region
As with other health issues, the population’s use of medicine varies in each region, as can be seen by analyzing data from pharmaceutical expenditures. Gross per capita spending on tier one prescription drugs in the Campania region, for example, was equivalent to 201.2 euros, while the total per capita in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano was 120.1 euros. On average, with reference to drugs provided through the public national healthcare system, pharmaceutical drug consumption in the southern regions of Italy is higher than in northern and central regions. In contrast, private expenditures incurred directly by citizens are higher in northern regions than in Central and Southern Italy. This data is particularly interesting when evaluated through a correlation analysis that compares the co-pay expense of prices of off-patent drugs with regional income per capita. It was found that regions with the lowest income had the highest co-pay expenditures.
Pharmaceutical spending in public healthcare facilities
Pharmaceutical spending by public healthcare facilities totaled around 11.9 billion euros. Even here, tendencies in pharmaceutical drug use and expenditures were analyzed on the basis of geographical criteria. The region of Puglia showed the highest per capita expenditures (236.96 euros), while the Autonomous Province of Trent was much lower (166.43 euros). Strictly in terms of pharmaceutical consumption, the region of Emilia Romagna, however, confirmed the highest consumption rates, followed immediately by Lombardy.
The use of medicine in Italy varies greatly depending on age and gender
A fundamental factor in analyzing the use of medicine is the study of pharmaceutical consumption based on age and gender. In 2018, each Italian citizen, on average, received one dose of medicine per day. There is, however, a difference in drug exposure depending on age. In age groups ranging from 0-15 and 65-85+, the prevalence of drug use was almost identical in men and women. In people with ages ranging from 15-65, there was a higher prevalence of drug use in women than in men. To be precise, not only considering gender, but also age, the daily dose of medicine consumed in men and women from 45-50 years old was less than 500 DDD/1000 people each day while consumption increased in people over 50, arriving at an average daily dose of more than 3500 DDD/1000 people over 80. Then again, the elderly population is the most fragile and often requires special assistance.
In addition to these considerations, the daily dose of medicine in people over the age of 50 is significantly higher in men than in women.
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