The Italian Almanac


Italian News - January 22

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will write to 16 million households across Italy asking them to cut down on medicines they do not need, for the sake of their own health and the government's coffers. "We invite you to take only those medicines which are essential," says the letter that will be sent out next month with an 80-page booklet of advice on "the correct use of pharmaceuticals."

Italy's national health system gives large discounts on many prescription drugs, and some experts say this leads people to buy more than necessary which, Berlusconi says, "increases health spending and damages all citizens and yourself." Per capita spending on drugs in Italy is around 310 Euros a year, less than in France and Germany where the figure is 476 and 442 Euros respectively, according to industry body Farmindustria.