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Essential medicines for mothers and children: a key element of health systems. Access to medicines and public pharmaceutical policy.
Entre Nous. 2009; (68):14-15.Medicines, when used appropriately, are one of the most cost effective interventions in health care. European countries spend an important part of their health budget on medicines, from 12% on average for the EU countries to more than 30% for the Newly Independent States (NIS) countries. Whereas in EU countries the larger part of the medicines expenditures are publicly funded through taxes and/or social health insurance, in the NIS and in the south eastern European countries it is often the patients who have to pay directly for the drugs themselves. This means that many patients simply do not get the drugs they need because they cannot afford them, and also may force families to incur enormous expenses as they sell their belongings in order to pay for their drugs and their health care.