On 2 July 2014, in his interview with the media, the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Davit Sergeenko, stated that the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia (GeoStat) is not convincing. “I have questions about the methodology employed by GeoStat which involves population surveys. They ask a minimum number of people, who have visited the pharmacies lately, about medication prices and base their statistics upon this kind of data. The medication prices should be monitored using the so-called “lots” method. I cannot say that medication prices have increased. In fact, they have become cheaper,” said Mr Sergeenko.

FactCheck

took interest in the Minister’s statement and checked the methodology employed by GeoStat in determining the medication price changes.

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, in order to determine the price changes of medications or other pharmaceutical products, they use the consumer price index calculation methodology. This methodology involves the observation of products and service prices. The consumer prices are registered within a ten-day block in the middle of every month in five major cities (Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori and Telavi). The following methodologies are used for the local identification of prices:

  • The price registrar personally visits the place of observation and registers the price of the pre-selected product or service;
  • The price registrar determines the product or service price by telephone call. This method is used for the identification of the prices of medication.

GeoStat observes the prices of more widely used medications. These include: cardiovascular medications, painkillers, antibiotics, vitamins, gastrointestinal medications and anti-inflammatory drugs. “The pharmacies themselves provide us with the medication prices,” said the representative of GeoStat who denied that they use population surveys in order to determine the prices of medication.

According to GeoStat, in the first six months of 2014, the average growth of medication prices was 6% as compared to the same period of the previous year. In May and June 2014 the prices went up by 8% and by 7.6% as compared to the same months of the previous year.

In January 2014, the prices of medication were reduced by 0.4% as compared to December 2013. There was a sharp increase in prices in February and March 2013. Prices remained more or less the same in April, May and June.

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In his statement Davit Sergeenko talked about the trend of a reduction in the prices of medication. It should be noted that from 1 July 2014 medications for the treatment of hepatitis C became cheaper by 60%. However, this programme included only 10,000 beneficiaries and, therefore, cannot affect the wider pharmaceutical market. Even though, according to GeoStat, the prices on widely used medication went up, it is still possible that in other medication groups (such as expensive drugs or medicine for the treatment of specific diseases) the prices have been reduced. To get the whole picture, we requested information about the prices of medication from the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia; however, we did not receive any answer.

Conclusion

GeoStat observes the prices of medications from the basket of goods. These include: cardiovascular medications, painkillers, antibiotics, vitamins, gastrointestinal medications and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In order to determine the price changes of medications or other pharmaceutical products, GeoStat uses the consumer price index calculation methodology which involves the observation of products and service prices. According to GeoStat, they get information about the prices from the pharmacies. Hence, the first part of the Minister’s statement about the methodology employed by GeoStat is not true.

From the data provided by the National Statistics Office it is clear that the prices of widely used medications have grown. In the first six months of 2014, the average growth of medication prices was 6% as compared to the same period of the previous year. In May and June 2014 the prices went up by 8% and by 7.6% as compared to the same months of the previous year.

It should be noted that from 1 July 2014 the medications for the treatment of hepatitis C became cheaper by 60%. The prices may have also dropped in other medication groups (such as expensive drugs or medicine for the treatment of specific diseases). FactCheck

contacted the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and officially requested the data about medication price changes; however, we did not get the requested information.

We conclude that Davit Sergeenko’s statement is MOSTLY FALSE.


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