Sales of medicines in the Czech Republic rose last year, their prices rose by an average of ten percent

Sales of medicines in the Czech Republic rose last year, their prices rose by an average of ten percent

Sales of drugs in the Czech Republic increased last year, their prices rose by ten percent on average

Medicines – illustrative photo.

Prague – Sales of prescription drugs on the Czech pharmaceutical market in 2022 increased by six percent year-on-year. The value of the prescription drug market, which in manufacturers' sales includes customer payments for over-the-counter drugs, as well as reimbursements from insurance companies and patient co-payments for prescription drugs, was 87 billion crowns. Interest in over-the-counter medicines rose more significantly, where sales revenue increased by 12 percent year-on-year to a total of 32 billion crowns. In addition to sales, the volumes of drugs sold also grew. For prescription drugs, by four percent year-on-year, for over-the-counter drugs by nine percent. On average, medicines became more expensive by about ten percent last year. This follows from the data provided to ČTK today by the analytical company IQVIA.

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In the case of prescription drugs, the demand for the strongest group of drugs, namely drugs for the treatment of cancer, which is worth almost 23 percent of the market value, has been growing for a long time. The group with the largest volume of drugs sold, with a fifth share, is traditionally drugs for the area of ​​the nervous system, which include analgesics in particular. In the over-the-counter products market, cold medicines have traditionally been the best-selling category.

Prescription drugs are paid for by most health insurance companies, in 2020 and 2021 they spent 38.5 billion CZK annually on prescription drugs, last year's data is not yet available. In addition, about a third of the amount that insurance companies pay for prescription drugs is paid each year by people on co-payments. For example, in 2020, according to the Czech Statistical Office, it was an average of 1,152 crowns per person, and people spent another 1,494 crowns on over-the-counter medicines. Health insurance companies refund part of the money to people who pay large amounts in co-payments. For disabled seniors over 70, it is over 500 crowns per year, for children and younger seniors over 1,000 crowns and for other adults over 5,000 crowns.

From the point of view of patent protection, patent-protected medicines strengthened the most with sales growth of 14 percent. Sales of patent-protected medicines also increased by six percent. On the other hand, drugs whose patent protection has already expired recorded six percent lower sales. Thus, the long-term trend of falling prices caused by the gradual introduction of generic drugs was confirmed. They increased sales by seven percent. Last year, pharmacies increased sales of original prescription drugs by six percent.

Even over-the-counter medicines did not escape the general price increase on the market last year. According to IQVIA, the pharmacy market in general remained at the level of price increases of up to ten percent. In the best-selling category of cold medicines, the increase in sales was mainly due to higher interest during the flu season. In December, this group's turnover increased by 26 percent year-on-year, which is double the pace of the average growth for the entire year. The highest increase in average price was recorded by the group of nutritionally complete high-energy food with a quarter increase. However, according to IQVIA, this was often caused by the tendency of customers to buy larger, and therefore overall more expensive product packages.

Prescription drugs have a maximum price and reimbursement set by insurance companies and the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL), so manufacturers cannot increase their prices adequately to increase costs. Last week, representatives of associations bringing together drug manufacturers in the Czech Republic said that costs have increased by hundreds of percent, but a large part of drugs are already sold at their maximum price. He sees the biggest problem with the cheapest drugs under 150 crowns per pack, where the manufacturer has a low margin. Approximately 1,000 of the 6,500 prescription drugs sold in the Czech Republic have this price. There are around 60 percent of them at the maximum price.

Internet pharmacies increased their share of total drug sales last year, now accounting for around 14 percent. Even so, the development of the online market has changed compared to previous years. “While in previous covid years we could observe very dynamic growth in internet sales, which reached a 50 percent increase, in 2022 growth slowed to 14 percent,” said IQVIA Czech Republic and Slovakia Product Director Ondřej Frič.

Last year, brick-and-mortar pharmacies increased sales by 12 percent, which represents an increase in the growth rate compared to the past. According to IQVIA, different shopping habits are evident depending on whether customers shop online or in person at a pharmacy.

Pharmacies have been struggling with a shortage of some medicines in recent months. The biggest problems were, for example, with stocks of antibiotics or some medicines for children. Because of this, the state had to ensure the import of extra packaging and negotiated with manufacturers to increase production for the domestic market.

IQVIA is a provider of analytical services, technological solutions and contract research services in the healthcare sector.