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Otc, price differences up to 70%

  "Deregulation has worked in one sector: it is the over-the-counter drug market, where the Bersani law has stimulated competition between the traditional point of sale, the pharmacy, and the new entrants into the game, parapharmacies and hypermarkets, widening the price range which reaches differences of 70%, for the same drug".

This is what Altroconsumo claims, which conducted a survey in ten Italian cities comparing the prices of 68 non-prescription drugs found in 144 points of sale including pharmacies (111), parapharmacies (17) and hypermarkets (16). The liberalization of the sector, which began in 2006, and the expansion of sales channels have therefore had a positive effect according to the association: if you choose the most convenient point of sale, you can save a lot.

Altroconsumo also highlights that "the prices are in braking: from the year of liberalization the increase was at the maximum of 3.4%, while between 2000 and 2005 it had been from 19%. If the competition is played, visiting different pharmacies, the average price of the same drug can vary in 57%; in the parapharmacies of 37% and in the corners of the large -scale distribution of 33%". More needs to be done: Altroconsumo proposes "that even medicines in range C with a prescription, in the presence of the pharmacist, be sold outside pharmacies.

Opposite tendency to the orientation of the Government which is discussing bills that 'plaster' the market". According to the data collected by Altroconsumo, in the face of savings opportunities, there is still a certain 'opacity' in presenting the final price of the product to the consumer. Since January 2008, the maximum reference prices on non-prescription medicines have been abolished, leaving the pharmacist free to establish the amount. A price list, mandatory by law since 2008, unfortunately often non-existent, should make a fine show. : only in the 42% of the points of sale visited is there a list of drug prices updated to 2010, and only in the 28% the consumer has the opportunity to consult it. In short, full transparency is still a long way off, underlines the association. Finally, Altroconsumo gives some advice to make the most of the positive effects of liberalization: against minor ailments such as headaches or colds, open the cabinet  medications at home, before rushing off to buy a new product. It is possible that you already have what's right for you: many drugs have the same properties, even if they have different names, so check the information leaflet; for over-the-counter medicines, memorize the point of sale where the price is cheaper. The savings that can be made "are very interesting, if you don't have emergencies"; consult the price comparison internet databases: on www.altroconsumo.it/farmaci the indicative prices and the various trade names that correspond to the same principle are available

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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco