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MEDICINE CHARGES

Health Ministry dodges detail with copayment figures

Four regions skip meeting, accusing government of restricting “fundamental rights”

The government’s introduction of a copayment system for medication has reduced the consumption of drugs by around six percent and the number of prescriptions by around seven percent, according to EL PAÍS calculations.

The figures are a long way from the 23.9 percent reduction in drugs spending and 14.14 percent decrease in prescriptions cited by the Health Ministry on Monday and repeated by Health Minister Ana Mato at a meeting of regional health department chiefs in Valladolid on Wednesday.

The Ministry figures compare data from July 2012 and July 2011, sidestepping several details, which include the hoarding of drugs by those affected in June. In the run-up to the introduction of copayment, prescriptions increased more than 10 percent and drugs spending, which had been experiencing monthly drops of over four percent, rose 3.8 percent.

Logically, these increases would have had a one-off impact on the July figures, creating decreases that cannot soley be attributable to the introduction of the copayment syste.

Four regions not governed by the Popular Party (PP) opted not to attend Wednesday’s meeting of health chiefs in Valladolid. The regional health departments of Andalusia, the Canary Islands, the Basque Country and Asturias issued a joint statement saying they did not want to “lend support” to the government's collection of “regressive policies” with their presence.

The government’s model, which includes plans to revoke the health cards of immigrants who do not have their papers in order from September 1, are “based on the restriction of fundamental rights such as education and healthcare,” they wrote.

Eight PP-run regions, plus Catalonia attended the meeting.