Chemists controversy

A public notice by the Association of Doctors (Ordem dos Médicos) in Portugal accuses chemists of deceiving patients by selling them more expensive medicines than those prescribed by the doctor.

The public accusation, in the form of a paid advertisement published in the Correio da Manhã newspaper, stated that patients are being “tricked” into buying more expensive drugs than those originally prescribed because chemists want to achieve higher profit margins. It further states that neither the government nor the members of parliament are taking a stance against this practice which is “continuously affecting patients who are being ripped off by the pharmaceutical sector”.

Infarmed, the national authority of medicines and health products, has since released a statement saying that “all activities relating to the sale of medicines are inspected” and “actions have actually been stepped up”.

Meanwhile, an incentive for chemists to sell generic drugs was announced by the Ministry of Health this week. Chemists that sell more than 45% of its stock of generic drugs will receive 50 cents for each medicine sold and an additional 50 cents if they sell one of the five cheapest medicines on the market. The measure, to be implemented this year, aims to counteract the negative impact of lower drug prices and profit margins in the pharmaceutical industry.