The pharmaceutical industry in Italy has taken a knocking since the government in January imposed a 10% price cut on all branded drugs with sales growth of more than 8.6% in the first half of 2004. The move came as a particularly unpleasant surprise, says Global Insight’s healthcare analyst, Milena Izmirlieva, as it came on top of existing cost-containment measures.

So what of the future for the Italian pharmaceutical industry? Milena notes that the latest cuts will have a disproportionate effect on research-based pharmaceuticals and adds that – for the foreseeable future – the country’s pricing and reimbursement policies are likely to remain murky and unpredictable. However, there is a glimmer of hope – the introduction of a reference pricing system, concludes Milena, would at least bring a degree of predictability and transparency to the Italian market.