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  Issue 1 (2005)

GD News
GD press release concerning the consequences of the Health Care Reform

Drastical additional expenditures for patients suffering from chronical skin diseases

Associated with the Health Care Reform effective since 1 January 2004, the supply situation of patients affected by neurodermatitis, psoriasis, non-healing wounds and other chronical skin diseases has considerably deteriorated. The patients have to pay a large part of the medicaments out of their own pockets. Pursuant to first analyses, the part of the self-payments amounts to annually up to 2,500 Euro per patient according to type and severity of the disease. This explanation has been given by the GD Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie on the occasion of its opening of the 9th Annual Meeting in Vienna on 14 March 2005.

"Main reason for the financial additional burden is that well proven basic therapeutics for treatment, such as for example urea preparations are no longer paid for by the compulsory health insurance funds. But also extra-payments for rehabilitation benefits and ambulant treatments have remarkably increased", stated the head of the GD department Dermatotherapy professor Dr. Matthias Augustin from the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf. Current one-year figures were presented for the first time at the GD's Annual Meeting in Vienna proving a significant shift in the dermatological drug sector. While the entire turnover for medicaments in Germany rose once again by 0.6 percent to 20.2 billions compared to the previous year, it decreased by 8.6 percent to 558.1 million Euro for dermatics in the same period. Not even half of this amount, exactly 263 million Euros has been financed by the compulsory health insurance funds — after all 24.3 percent less than in the year 2003. The considerable balance had to be borne by the patients themselves.

Every sixth person pays
more than 100 Euro per month himself

The situation aggravated drastically due to the legal reorganization in such a way that over-the-counter drugs are no longer paid by the health insurances. This regulation affects in fact all dermatological diagnoses thus affecting approximately 15 to 20 million persons. This situation is particularly difficult for many persons concerned with chronical skin diseases who are in permanent need of so-called basis therapeutics: every sixth patient suffering from psoriasis pays 100 Euro and above from his own pocket, persons suffering from neurodermatitis on average 94 Euro per month for their own treatments.

Patients suffering from skin diseases are heavily financially burdened by the Health Care Reform which took effect in January 2004. One of the main reasons is the discontinuation of the reimbursement of non-prescription drugs by the compulsory health insurance funds.

These additional financial expenses have to be borne by the persons affected without upper limit as non-prescription drugs may not be imputed on the extra-payment limits of two respectively one percent at chronical diseases. "This is no longer affordable by most people", explains professor Augustin, "every fourth person is financially no longer in the position to bear the increased co-payment for the treatment costs".

Patients protract or even
discontinue therapies

Whether the original objective of the Health Care Reform to reduce costs for the compulsory health insurance funds can be realized by means of these measures is more than questionable in the opinion of the GD Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie: owing to the high financial burden, many patients discontinue their therapy or delay the purchase of new required drugs. Professor Augustin: "this attitude entails an aggravation of the disease pattern and thus higher costs in the further frequently stationary provisioning of many skin patients which then creates a major drawback for the health insurances."

The GD advocates the refunding of urgently required basic therapeutics by the compulsory health insurance funds in view of the high financial burden of many skin patients and consequently the social grievance associated. Moreover, the development of new, innovative medicaments as for example the "Biologicals" for psoriasis is of particular importance: "on the one hand first of all they give rise to additionally increased costs", according to professor Augustin. "On the basis of their special effectiveness and the increase of the quality of life associated they could however, in the long-term process contribute to a reduction of the consequential costs respectively disease burden."


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