Utilization, Cost, and Affordability of Antihypertensive Therapy in Bulgaria

Document Type : Research article


Department of Organization and Economy of Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy,Medical University of Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria.


ACE- inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, Ca- antagonists are recommended as first-line monotherapy for hypertension. The aim of the current study is to analyze expenditures paid by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) after introducing the budget cap cost-containment measure and its impact on affordability and utilization. The study is a retrospective, observational analysis of expenditure on main groups' antihypertensive medicines: beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE- inhibitors, and AT receptor blockers. The cost paid by the NHIF two years before (2016-2017), and after (2018-2019) the introduction of the budget cap measure was evaluated. Utilization and affordability data covering antihypertensive therapy were retrospectively calculated and analyzed during 2016-2019. The reimbursed expenditures on sartans, ACE-inhibitors, and β-blockers decreased in absolute terms in 2019 compared to that in 2016. There are no statistically significant differences, excluding the group of sartans. The result reveals decreasing utilization of ACE-inhibitors and β-blockers, which is the most significant for enalapril and bisoprolol. Affordability increases during the observed period because less than a working day income is sufficient for monthly therapy.  Patients with hypertension in Bulgaria have access to affordable first-line antihypertensive medicines. Despite the stable and low prices, utilization mainly decreases. The reimbursed amount is reduced with a low rate or remains similar to that found at the beginning of the observed period. The results of the implemented budget cap as a measure to control NHIF cost are not evident and not fully expressed on the market for the first-line antihypertensive therapy.

Graphical Abstract

Utilization, Cost, and Affordability of Antihypertensive Therapy in Bulgaria