How regional sickness funds in Austria encourage more rational prescribing

Generics/Research | Posted 16/08/2013 post-comment0 Post your comment

In Austria, as in other EU countries, rational use of medicines is high on the healthcare agenda. According to WHO, use of generic medicines help reduce costs incurred by public payers and is a way of supporting rational use of medicines.


Most EU countries have policies in place to support generics prescribing, such as reference price systems, generics substitution polices and International Nonproprietary Name (INN) prescribing. Austria, however, is the only country in Europe that does not. The lack of regulation in Austria means that the role of educating and motivating doctors has fallen to the sickness funds, which have to work proactively to motivate doctors to prescribe more rationally.

Austria’s social health insurance system is based on a social security system with compulsory insurance, and operates within the framework established by the federal entity, Main Association of Social Insurance Institution. Central to this system are nine regional sickness funds for the nine Austrian provinces.

In 2010, The Austrian Federal Ministry of Health commissioned Dr Vogler and Ms Zimmerman to conduct an exploratory evaluation of initiatives undertaken by Austrian sickness funds in eastern, central and southern parts of Austria to enhance the rational use of medicines, and increase use of generics. Four large sickness funds of mixed constituencies were selected, and semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with staff within each fund’s pharmacoeconomic unit to establish activities targeted at prescribers, patients and pharmacists [1].

The survey found that a core set of activities took place across all sickness funds but with wide variance in the implementation and design of measures between them. This variance is believed to stem from the need to adapt strategies to suit rural or more populated urban areas.

The main hub of activity among all sickness funds was directed at doctors, with the aim of motivating generics prescribing.

The article that follows will offer insights into the activities targeted at doctors and patients, and the need for national policy to encourage more rational prescribing.

Editor’s comment
If you are interested in contributing a research paper in a similar area to GaBI Journal, please send us your submission here.

Dr Sabine Vogler, Member of International Editorial Advisory Board of GaBI Journal published the full manuscript in GaBI Journal, 2013, Issue 2:

How do regional sickness funds encourage more rational use of medicines, including the increase of generic uptake? A case study from Austria

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1.  Vogler S, Zimmermann N. How do regional sickness funds encourage more rational use of medicines, including the increase of generic uptake? A case study from Austria. Generics and Biosimilars Initiative Journal (GaBI Journal). 2013;2(2):65-75. doi:10.5639/gabij.2013.0202.027

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