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Italian Prime Minister Shakes Up Health Care Establishment

Imagine my surprise while I was surfing the Net this morning to find another wonderful indication some of "the powers that be" may indeed be truly understanding the extent to which the established health care paradigm is looting patients' pocketbooks and ruining their health with quick-fix "cures."

Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, will soon send letters to 16 million families in his country, urging them to cut down the number of medicines they take for the sake of their own health and to reduce health care spending by the government. The letter will be accompanied by an 80-page handbook that offers Italians advice on the proper use of pharmaceuticals.

The Italian government also plans to ban pharmaceutical companies from giving lavish gifts to physicians, in a crackdown on medical spending in a country where drug sales amount to some $23 billion annually. Instead, drug companies there would be limited to gifts of about $6.

The average medicine cabinet in Italy, according to its Health Ministry, stores some $260 of unused drugs. That's because the country's national health system gives large discounts on many prescription drugs. This leads some Italians -- who spend about $400 annually on prescriptions -- to buy far more drugs than necessary.

Yahoo News January 21, 2005

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