France: explosion in the number of tobacco-addiction treatments
Nicotine addiction treatments had tremendous success between the months of March and September 2018. According to the national health insurance service, Assurance Maladie, prescriptions are up by 75%. This recent craze for tobacco substitutes can in part be explained by the “Prevention priority” program launched by Agnes Buzyn, France’s health minister.
Since January 2018, the reimbursement terms for anti-tobacco medication have changed. In the past, smokers hoping to quit smoking benefitted from a 150 Euro subsidy to help pay for tobacco substitutes. However, this policy was unfair to people with modest means because they had to front the money before being reimbursed; it also created long and tedious administrative issues. Currently, tobacco cessation medications are reimbursed by up to 65%.
Social security covers a large selection of patches, nicotine gums, lozenges, and inhalers. As of now, 61 different products with varying nicotine dosages are partially reimbursed by France’s national health insurance. Nonetheless, a prescription from a health authority is mandatory in order to qualify for reimbursement.
The success of the “Prevention Priority” anti-tobacco policy
The shift in how anti-tobacco medication is reimbursed has had immediate effects. The number of anti-tobacco medications sold jumped from 50,876 to 87,796 units in only five months.
The government has decided to maintain the lump sum subsidy of 150 Euros until the end of 2018, which allows smokers to purchase non-refundable anti-tobacco products at a lower cost. However, the amount of people benefitting from this subsidy dropped by 61% between September 2017 and March 2018. These numbers clearly show just how effective the new reimbursement system is for nicotine substitutes.
Nonetheless, the ANSM (National Agency for Medication Safety) points out that the consumption of tobacco substitutes is not without its risks, pointing out that some serious side effects have already been documented. It is also important that users be aware of what types of medication they are using and all of the potential side effects.
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