The Health Insurance Fund paid out €195 million towards medicinal drugs in 2017, including €131 million on medicinal products distributed at a discount and over €60 million on medicinal products used in hospitals.
There are altogether over 2,000 medicines with over 500 active substances on the list of medicinal products distributed at a discount in Estonia, spokespeople for the Health Insurance Fund said.
Estonia spends less money on medicines per resident than member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on average. Almost one-fifth of Estonia's healthcare funding is spent on medicines.
The use of medicines for the treatment of hypertension and diabetes in Estonia is equal to the OECD average level. The use of drugs lowering the cholesterol level and antidepressants meanwhile is smaller by half in Estonia than the OECD average. Estonian family doctors also prescribe antibiotics less often than their colleagues elsewhere in the OECD.
Estonian family doctors issue 7.43 million prescriptions and other doctors 3.7 million prescriptions per year. Prescribed medicines for approximately one million euros are never bought.
Estonia has achieved a relatively good level when it comes to the issuance of medicinal prescriptions based on the active substance of a medicine, not the brand or the name. This is being done by 98 percent of family doctors and 88 percent of other doctors. However, patients of family doctors would be able to save €9.5 million a year by choosing at the counter a cheaper alternative containing the same active substance.
Editor: Dario Cavegn