In the first two months of 2021, Apulian citizens brought 911,000 fewer recipes to the pharmacy than the previous year. The data that highlights the drop in expenditure for medicines must, this time, take second place compared to the first indirect confirmation of a phenomenon closely linked to Covid: the epidemiological emergency means that we care less.
The recipe count is in fact a good indirect indicator. And the comparison fits perfectly: in 2020 the lockdown started in March, so the first two months of last year are also the last of “normality” before the emergency, while January and February of 2021 in Puglia were a period of red zone, with the block of ordinary activities in hospitals. And therefore, according to AIFA monitoring, the number of recipes has gone from 7.4 to 6.5 million, about 450 thousand fewer per month: it is 12.2%, more than the average drop recorded at the national level (10.2) . This equates to an overall decrease of 10 million average daily doses of medicines over two months.
From an economic point of view, this cut indicates that for the first time Puglia begins the year with substantial compliance with the pharmaceutical spending ceiling (albeit for just one million euros). The payback mechanism (the sum that pharmaceutical companies return to the Regions, a sort of posthumous discount) will also be used precisely to cover 700 million higher costs for the covid emergency at national level, so it is to be understood how it will affect the calculation of roofs for the pharmaceutical industry. But the data that takes on the most significant value is precisely that connected to the treatments that are no longer there. It was known, because denounced by the trade unions, that one of the effects of the emergency is the risk of not responding to the daily health needs, those that pass (above all) through the general practitioner and specialist visits and which translate into consumption of drugs. And in fact, while the expenditure for pharmacies is decreasing, in Puglia in the two months of January and February direct expenditure (hospital medicines) has risen to 134 million euros.
In recent weeks, the Region is working on the plan for the restart of ordinary care, reconverting the departments and “returning” to the network some hospitals entirely dedicated to covid (Barletta, Bari San Paolo, Castellaneta, Martina Franca and San Severo, plus private individuals and ecclesiastics). This will have an impact on the planned activity, but also on specialist visits and examinations. The rest is in the hands of general practitioners. Yesterday the Apulian Fimmg asked the Region “the structural and organizational strengthening of the entire General Medicine with priority for human resources – study staff and nurses – to support the profession”, that is, the disbursement of additional funds, threatening otherwise “Procedures for claims and trade union struggle”. The commitment of doctors in the vaccination campaign – says the Fimmg – is “the fruit of sacrifices that are certainly not repeatable in the perspective of an ordinary phase that should ask for further commitments”.