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Gaceta Sanitaria

versión impresa ISSN 0213-9111


MENEU, R.. Alternatives to pharmaceutical distribution and reimbursement. Gac Sanit [online]. 2002, vol.16, n.2, pp.171-179. ISSN 0213-9111.

In Spain pharmaceutical distribution is carried out mainly thorugh the 20,000 independent pharmacies located throughout the country. This situation contrasts with that in other countries where other health care providers play a major role in drug dispensation or where pharmacies form part of industrial conglomerates or commercial chains. We describe the pharmaceutical distribution chain in Spain -wholesale and through the pharmacies- and place particular emphasis on five aspects of relevance when considering alternatives: ownership of the pharmacy and norms of professional service, criteria for setting up a pharmacy, monopoly on dispensing, automatic ageement with the Spanish national health system and reimbursement system. Several alternatives found in comparable countries are described: mail order and on-line distribution, sale of over-the counter pharmaceutical products in establishments other than pharmacies, the estabilishment of pharmaceutical chains, dispensing by providers, the repercussions of electronic prescribing and the possibilities of the still-emerging «Pharmacuetical Care». The characteristics of pharmacy reimbursement systems are also reviewed. We recommend modification of limitations on ownership of pharmacies, the establishment of optional agreements between pharmacies and the Spanish national health system and the authorization of alternative or complementary channels of distribution for some products. We propose a mixed model of reimbursement that would include: a) a ficed price for dispensing; b) almost total return of the cost of the product; c) reimbursement for services explicity defined by the financer, and d) the possibility of a selective fixed payment for certain situations depending on the agreed services or a guaranteed minimum income.

Palabras clave : Pharmaceutical drugs; Costs; Pharmacy; Regulation; Reimbursement; Distribution; Ownership.

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