MILAN – If you suffer for the first time from an illness – temporary or which unfortunately will be chronic – and equivalent medicines are also available to treat it, your doctor is required to indicate the active ingredient of the medicine on the red prescription, which otherwise is not valid. However, it can also add the name of a specific drug, both brand and generic. If he writes "non-replaceable" on the prescription, motivating his choice, the pharmacist will have to give you that medicine, and will not be able to exchange it for another. If, on the other hand, you already have a chronic disease, you can continue to take the usual medicine that the doctor has always prescribed for you. This is what the new provisions on the prescriptions of equivalent drugs envisage, included in the Development Decree published in December Official Gazette.
In addition to containing some changes compared to the rules introduced last summer, the provisions are above all more explicit on controversial aspects that had raised doubts in the interpretation of the text. "The new formulation of the law, for example, specifies better that the doctor can always indicate the name of the drug, generic or branded, even for the therapies prescribed to new patients - comments Giacomo Milillo, national secretary of the Italian Federation of doctors of General medicine -. After all, the prescription is a medical act for which we are responsible".
Meanwhile, to help patients understand what actually changes in the prescription of equivalent medicines, Federconsumatori has launched an information campaign. «Usually the circulars are for "insiders" and can be difficult to understand for those who are not experts - says the vice president, Valeria Fedeli -. For this reason we have summarized the main points of the new rules in clearer and more accessible language for all. Assuming that family doctors inform their patients, we will disseminate the information in the places most frequented by patients, such as local health authorities and hospitals". Citizens then ask for explanations and clarifications even in the pharmacy. «For years, according to the regulations in force, the pharmacist has been required to inform patients about the existence of equivalent medicines and their characteristics, also because, if the patient wants the branded medicine, he/she has to pay the price difference when the generic is less expensive» says Annarosa Racca, president