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Wed, 22.01.2003
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pte20030122045 Health/Medicine, Politics/Law
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Medicines to be delivered to patients' homes
Commitment to buy only from their chosen chemist for one year necessary

Hannover (pte045/22.01.2003/13:22) - The 1.5 million people insured by the Lower Saxony Company Health Insurance Association (BKK) in Germany will be able to get medicines delivered to their homes with no extra charge from the beginning of March. Chronically ill patients are expected to benefit in particular from the new agreement between the Lower Saxony BKK and local chemists to deliver medicines ordered by phone and using staff with pharmaceutical training.

In return for the service, Lower Saxony BKK patients will be asked to sign a declaration committing them to buy medicines only from their chosen chemist for a year. The BKK hopes that the agreement will result in a closer and more stable partnership between patients and their chosen chemist and so ensure that chronically ill patients in particular have regular access to their medicines.

Under the scheme, chemists will also give a five per cent discount to patients on over the counter products, including cosmetics. Heinz-G√ľnter Wolf, chairman of the Lower Saxony Chemist's Association, said that the agreement was a win-win situation for all three partners involved in the project.

"Chemists and the BKK can lower their costs and patients will benefit from the better treatment," Wolf told Reuters Health. He said chemists would be able reduce their costs by bulk buying because having a long-term relationship with patients will allow them to plan their future need for medicine better. The chairman the Lower Saxony BKK Ingo Werner confirmed that the BKK would also save money.

"The chemists will pass on some of the money they save to the health insurance association, especially in the area of diabetes and diabetes test strips," he said. Furthermore, chemists have agreed to support a BKK programme tailored to help patients suffering from diabetes. Through the BKK MedPlus programme, chemists will have access to information about their diabetic customers and so will be able to give them better advice and treatment.

It is not yet clear how many chemists will take part in the project but a spokesman of the Lower Saxony BKK said that chemists are under increasing pressure from competition from chemists on the internet.
Negotiations are already in progress to extend the agreement to other parts of Germany.

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