Health Insurance Fund encourages patients to have more say in the selection of medicines

The Health Insurance Fund carries on with the social campaign “The difference is in the price of the medicine” that has so far been very successful. As a result of raising awareness as well as strengthening national regulations, the extent of cost-sharing by patients in buying medicines has decreased by almost a euro per one prescription in two years. The aim of the follow-up campaign is to continue raising people’s awareness and to encourage patients to ask more and more for the medicine with the best price at pharmacies.  

In autumn 2010, the Health Insurance Fund launched the campaign “The difference is in the price of the medicine,” which made people aware of the fact that it was possible to choose the most affordably priced medicine from amongst the products containing the same active ingredient at the pharmacy. According to the Health Insurance Fund, there has been an active response to the campaign and it has given good results.   “Before last year, the extent of cost-sharing by patients in buying medicines increased on a regular basis. In 2009, patients paid an average of 8 euros from their own pockets for one discount-priced medicinal product, but by today this amount has decreased by one euro,” confirmed Mari Mathiesen, member of the Management Board at the Health Insurance Fund.   The expenses of people on medicines have decreased because they have increasingly started to choose the cheapest from amongst the medicines with the same effect, including more generic medicines. Kristin Raudsepp, Director General at the State Agency of Medicines, admitted that even though the extent of using generic medicines has recently grown, it could still be larger. “In Estonia, the percentage of using generic medicines is 35%, while in England and Germany, for example, it was over 60-70% for the medicines no longer protected with patents a few years ago. The extent of using generic medicines could be higher in Estonia as well. I would like encourage everyone to use generic medicines because they are as effective, safe and high-quality as original medicines,” specified Raudsepp.   “Since there are no differences in the effect of equivalent original and generic medicines, and the only difference is in the price, we advise patients to choose the product with the most suitable price for them,” Diana Ingerainen, Chairwoman of Estonian Family Doctors Association, also highlighted.   With the ongoing campaign, the Health Insurance Fund is continuously trying to make people aware of the equivalence of the medicines containing the same active ingredients irrespective of the commercial name on the package and the price, and encourages all patients to have more say in selecting medicines.