Spain to guarantee government's payments to drugmakers, report suggests

Spain will now guarantee regional governments' payments to drugmakers in a bid to garner support for a plan to centralise drug purchases in the country and narrow the EU's swelling budget deficit, Bloomberg reported. The government is targeting savings of 400 million euros ($525 million) from the first batch of centralised purchases, which will include antibiotics in September, according to an unnamed senior official at the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.

The official indicated that Spain's Instituto Nacional de Gestion Sanitaria will publish documents as early as this week seeking offers from suppliers of health products. The Health Ministry designed the process to guarantee buyers' solvency and a single price per product, the official said, adding that there are no restrictions to the number of participants as long as providers are qualified suppliers. The country's 17 semi-autonomous regions can also choose whether to participate in the tender.

Spain’s pharmaceutical spending was just over 799 million euros ($1 billion) in May, marking a 12.1-percent decrease from the year-ago period, according to the health ministry.

The plan marks the second time the country has tried to establish such a payment system after a first attempt in December was challenged by the industry and withdrawn, according to a Ministry of Health spokeswoman. Last year, the government announced 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in healthcare spending cuts, including measures to contain pharmaceutical spending, as lower tax receipts left the regions struggling to pay suppliers.

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