A Prescription for Confusion

Survey: Many physicians are against the new freedom in choosing medication

Koblenz, (PresseBox) - The Pharmaceutical Market Realignment Act (Arzneimittelmarkt-Neuordnungsgesetz (AMNOG)), which took effect at the beginning of this year, gives patients more freedom in choosing a prescription drug. However, this supposed freedom comes with a price: elective medications often cost more and they must be paid for in advance. Almost half of all physicians criticize the fact that this is causing confusion for their patients. More than one in two physicians advocates Europe-wide uniform pricing for prescription drugs to lower costs.

Freedom of choice, but not at any price
In theory, beginning January 01 of this year, patients can go to a pharmacy with a new feeling of confidence, since the new law, (AMNOG), is giving them authority they never had in the past. As of right now, every patient is free to decide which medication he will buy with his prescription - as long as it contains the same dosage of the active ingredient prescribed by the physician.

However, in reality, the newly obtained freedom to decide is causing more confusion: if the patient chooses a different medication than the one originally prescribed, he hast to pay for it up front and is reimbursed by his health insurance, but concrete information about how the reimbursement works is often lacking. Almost half of all physicians are confronted with this confusion in their medical office and oppose this new payment arrangement for medication (43.9%). In addition, 15.5% of surveyed physicians were also under the impression that patients are paying unnecessarily and end up purchasing overpriced products. On the other hand, there are proponents of the "competent patient." One fifth of physicians (20.7%) welcome the new freedom of choice at the pharmacy.

Skeptical patients - not everyone gets bitten by the bug
Apparently, how well patients manage their new options at the pharmacy, available since the beginning of this year, varies quite a bit. Many pharmacy customers seem to be unfazed by the new law. Six out of ten physicians (58.9%) deny that their patients complain more frequently about problems when they take their prescriptions to the pharmacy. Four out of ten physicians (14.1%) report that their patients are having difficulties with the new situation. More than one fourth of affected patients (28.9%) while in the exam room report that the pharmacist had recommended more expensive medication with the same active ingredient. One fifth of the confused patients (22%) feel that they are not at all well-informed about the new law and are looking to the physicians for help.

A different approach to lowering costs
Most physicians consider lowering the cost of medication to be a central concern. Only one out of ten (10.9%) is of the opinion that rising demand and the earnings incentive for research do not allow for any significant cost savings. However, the majority of surveyed physicians were doubtful that the measures by the Federal Health Ministry would have any influence on the pricing structure - only a very small 4.3% of the surveyed physicians considered the health reform to be sufficient in that regard. By contrast, more than one out of two surveyed physicians (58.6%) had concrete ideas about how the cost of prescription drugs could be lowered effectively and is challenging the Federal Government to establish a Europe-wide price maintenance for the pharmaceutical industry. Almost one fourth of the physicians (24.1%) also feel that it is important that the price of a new medication is based on its added benefits.

The CGM GesundheitsMONITOR:
The CGM GesundheitsMONITOR is a joint initiative of CompuGroup Medical, the Medical Tribune and the Rhein-Zeitung. They perform representative monthly surveys of 440 general practitioners with regard to current issues in the healthcare system. You can download free printable graphs and find publications as well as information about the representative survey at www.cgm-gesundheitsmonitor.de.

About Medical Tribune:
For over 40 years, the Medical Tribune has been one of the most widely read publications for private practice physicians. The popular weekly newspaper offers an attractive mix of medicine, health and professional policies relevant to private practice, and economic issues that apply to the medical profession. In a unique style, the Medical Tribune provides multi-faceted continued education, personal advice, and interesting reading material within a newspaper. The Medical Tribune's success story has been documented by the independent readership review (LA-MED) for decades.

About Rhein-Zeitung:
The Rhein-Zeitung area of circulation connects the metropolitan areas Köln-Bonn and the Rhein-Main region. The economically strong region around Koblenz is located in the center. With a circulation of right of 224,000 copies and 17 local issues, the Rhein-Zeitung has approximately 640,000 readers.

CompuGroup Medical AG

CompuGroup Medical is one of the leading e-health companies worldwide. Its software products, designed to support all medical and organizational activities in doctors' offices and hospitals, its information services for all parties involved in the healthcare system and its web-based personal health records contribute towards safer and more efficient healthcare. The services of CompuGroup Medical are based on its unique customer base of around 370,000 doctors, dentists, hospitals and networks as well as other service providers. CompuGroup Medical is the e-Health company with one of the biggest coverage among e-health service providers worldwide. The company operates in 18 European countries as well as in Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and in the USA and currently employs around 3,300 people.

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