Drug prescription copayment rolls out with delays and confusion
Health Ministry claims that just “one in 10,000” prescriptions led to problems for patients
Day one of the new copayment system for subsidized drugs caused line-ups and technical glitches at pharmacies across Spain, although the gloomiest predictions about generalized chaos did not materialize.
Collapsed databases, problems with bar codes and system errors were the norm, many pharmacists reported on a historic day when, for the first time, seniors had to pay 10 percent of their medication's price. The controversial system is part of a government drive to bring down public healthcare costs; other initiatives include restricting illegal immigrants' access to the system to emergency treatment only.
According to the Health Ministry, things went smoothly across the country. "Fewer than one in every 10,000 prescriptions created some kind of problem, according to data provided by the [regional] health services. These services issue around 4.5 million prescriptions a day," said a ministry note.
However, in Andalusia the new system collapsed the network in four out of eight provinces, while in Catalonia the government has decided to delay implementation until an as-yet unspecified date. "I am giving you this ticket because in a few months the Spanish state will send you a bill," the pharmacist Carmen Buxalleu kept telling her clients on Monday.
Separately, the Spanish transplant system has just set a new record. On Tuesday, there were 18 organ donations and 36 transplants performed in 24 hours. The record was not released by the National Transplant Organization until yesterday. Spain has become a world leader in transplants over the past two decades. In 2001 the donation rate reached the landmark rate of 35.3 per million.