The Greek Ministry of Health’s newly-published positive drug reimbursement list, which takes effect October 10, does not include any innovative new products which were assigned prices in August.

The new positive list covers more than 7,600 products, including 1,223 new generics which were given prices in July and August, and imposes price cuts ranging from 0.1% to 43%.

None of the 100 or so innovative new medicines which received prices in August - the first ones to do so for more than 30 months - is included on the list; the Ministry says these are shortly to undergo evaluation for inclusion on a new supplementary positive list.

However, analysts at IHS Global Insight point out that: “considering the need to restrict pharmaceutical expenditure to under 2 billion euros, which is around 50% less spending than in 2011, there is a strong likelihood that only a limited number of these drugs will be approved for reimbursement.”

The government is also aiming to boost uptake of generics. Greece’s bailout “troika” – the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund – has called for generics to account for 60% of the national drugs market by the end of this year – a highly ambitious goal, given that the current level is just 18%. In future, patients who want to receive an off-patent originator drug rather than a generic will be required to pay the full difference between the drug they want and the reference price. If they choose a generic, the co-payment will be half the difference.

The Ministry has also revealed the first “therapeutic protocols” - chronic conditions for which doctors will be required to prescribe specific medicines. The first 19 protocols cover five disease groups - diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, neurological disorders and osteoporosis – which together account for 50% for the monthly reimbursement costs of Greece’s National Organisation of Healthcare Provision (EOPYY).

The next set of protocols will cover rheumatology treatments and biotechnology medicines; the latter are currently being used excessively in Greece, says the Ministry.

Meantime, a new survey reports that 28.4% of Greek patients say they are spacing out their intake of medicines to enable them to go further. The survey, which was conducted for the National School of Public Health, also found that just over half of respondents say they are finding it difficult to pay for the drugs they need.