New Spanish prescribing laws to promote generics

Generics/General | Posted 02/09/2011 post-comment0 Post your comment

In an attempt to reduce the healthcare bill the Spanish government has approved new rules to force Spanish doctors to prescribe and pharmacies to dispense generic drugs rather than more expensive brand-named medicines.


The new law means that Spanish doctors will now have to complete prescriptions giving only the details of the active ingredients of the medicine, along with the dose and format. The pharmacist is then obliged to provide the cheapest available medicine, which will often be a generic drug rather than the more well-known brand-named version.

The Spanish government expects the new measures, along with other drug price-reducing measures introduced on 23 August 2011, to save the state Euros 2.4 billion.

The move is good news for generics manufacturers especially considering the fact that, although Spain is Europe’s fifth largest pharmaceutical market [1], the Spanish generics market is small compared to other European countries, such as Germany and the UK. In 2010, generics accounted for only 24% of the total pharmaceutical market by volume and 9.4% by value [2].

Prime Minister, Mr José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, told parliament the measures would help Spain continue to lower the cost of drugs to the state, a move that began in 2010 and which has led to the first-ever fall in the national pharmaceutical bill. The drugs bill for 2011 was already cut by 10%, in part because of measures aimed at increasing the use of generic drugs.

Basque Party leader, Mr Josu Erkoreka, told The Guardian, ‘what matters is reducing the deficit and lowering the drugs bill for millions of people who use public health services’.

However, the Peoples Party leader, Mr Mariano Rajoy, criticised the government for failing to introduce the law earlier and for allowing public spending to soar after the economy crashed in 2008.

Related article

Spanish government introduces harsh generic price cuts


1. AESEG 3. La investigación del sector farmacéutico europeo: el caso de España [Spanish] [Investigation of the European pharmaceutical industry: case study of Spain]. February 2009.

2. Ministerio de Sanidad Politica Social e Igualdad [Ministry of Health Social Policy and Equality]. Consumo de genéricos en España [Spanish] [Consumption of Generic Drugs in Spain] [page on the Internet]. Madrid, Spain [cited 2011 September 02]. Available from:

Source: The Guardian

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