Spain's new rules shut out off-patent brands

The shape of Spain's pharmaceutical cuts is growing clearer. The government has approved new rules aimed at boosting generics use--and cutting €2.4 billion ($3.46 billion) from its drug spending in the process.

The new laws require doctors to write prescriptions using a drug's generic name, InPharm reports. Pharmacists will then be required to fill the script with the cheapest available drug, aka a generic, if one is available. The rules won't affect on-patent brands; those drugs don't have generics for substitution. But older brands could find themselves out of luck.

As InPharm notes, the generic substitution is most likely to hurt big-selling branded statin meds--such as Lipitor, which recently got a generic copycat in Spain--and branded blood thinners.

The government believes the new rules will save it billions. That's on top of previous cuts that depressed drug spending by 10% so far this year, the Guardian reports. "The interests of the big drugs companies must give way to public interest," Basque Party leader Josu Erkoreka told the Guardian, "and what matters is reducing the deficit and lowering the drugs bill for millions of people who use public health services."

- get the story from the Guardian
- read the InPharm coverage