(ANSA) - Rome, September 24 - Italians spent 25.5 billion
euros last year on medications, including an increased use of
anti-depressants that was somewhat offset by less demand for
antibiotics, says a government survey released Tuesday.
On average, spending on pharmaceuticals was about 430 euros
per person in 2012, and about 76% of those expenses were covered
by the national health service, says the report on the use of
medications released by the Italian Drug Agency (AIFA).
It also found that although total national drug spending,
both public and private, fell by 5.6% last year compared with
2011, costs borne by the public alone were reduced by just 1.5%
over the previous year.
Across Italy, the use of medications jumped for the very
young and the elderly, the report found, adding that women tend
to use more medicines.
That is partly because of increased use of drugs to fight
cancer in women, who also used more medications to deal with
muscle and joint pain, and treatment of osteoporosis.
The use of antidepressants rose by 4.5% in 2012, compared
with 2004, said the report, noting that the prevalence of
depression is higher in women than in men and increases in
significantly with age.
The AIFA added that is becoming concerned with a growing
prevalence of depression among Italians.
It cited some studies that suggest that by 2020, depression
will be the second-most serious ailment - after cardiovascular
diseases - responsible for the reductions in good health and
Antidepressants are also one of the largest categories of
medications in the public health budget.
And while "inappropriate" use of antibiotics continued to
be a problem last year - especially among elderly patients - use
is dropping, falling by 6.1% in 2012 compared with 2011, the