Journal article Open Access

Italian Public Health Expenditure for Vitamin D is still high: New Outlook to Saving From a Consumption Analysis in the Liguria Region

Moretti, Michele; Paleari, Laura; Figallo, Fabrizio; Garbarini, Chiara; Ponti, Elisa; Schena, Francesca; Marinelli, Lucio

AbstractPurposeItalian expenditure for vitamin D greatly increased in the last few years, reaching €314 million ($376.8 million) in 2019. In Italy, the main cause of the increase in public spending for vitamin D is the marketing of high-cost medicines. At national and regional levels, some interventions have been performed to reduce expenditure, but spending has continued to increase. The aim of this work is to propose a new saving strategy determined by an analysis of a significant sample of the market.MethodsData on the use of vitamin D formulations, including data for the different active substances that represent its pharmaceutical analogue and composition of groups of equivalence, were extrapolated from the Italian Medicines Agency transparency lists and from the Farmadati database. Data on pharmaceutical expenditure were obtained from the Data Warehouse of Liguria Region; the composition of this expenditure was analyzed in detail, focusing on the characteristics of the pharmaceutical preparations and their cost (price per defined daily dose).FindingsVitamin D expenditure paralleled that of cholecalciferol, the most used active ingredient, which in Liguria increased from €643,352 ($772,022.4) in 2010 to €8,006,574 ($9,607,888.8) in 2019 (increase of 1144%). Spending focused on high-cost formulations, exceeding 90% of total cholecalciferol cost in 2019. We simulated a possible optimization of the expense for cholecalciferol by applying a revised price to all the cholecalciferol consumptions in high-cost products because these formulations do not have an added therapeutic value, finding that the saving would be at least 60%. National data on the detailed expenditure composition for vitamin D are not available, but we found a strong resemblance between total cholecalciferol expenditure time series in Italy and the Liguria Region.ImplicationsThe expense of cholecalciferol and consequently the expense of vitamin D could be optimized by modifying the reimbursement of high-cost formulations. At a national level, savings should be proportional to that estimated for the Liguria Region. On the basis of the 2019 data, Italian savings with respect to total cholecalciferol expenditure should be €170.65 million ($204.78 million); per capita cholecalciferol expenditure would shift from €4.66 ($5.59) to €1.84 ($2.21).
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