Introduction: There are scarce descriptions of hospital drug procurement in the primary literature. The aim of this study was to analyse the drug tender led by a clinical pharmacologist in a 1200-bed university hospital in Serbia, a developing country in socio-economic transition, and to give recommendations for future steps in hospital drug policy.
Procedure and outcomes: Drug tendering was conducted according to the public procurement law from January to April 2003. Analysis included the method of defined daily doses and anatomical therapeutic chemical classification, as well as minimal tender prices, free market prices, essential drugs and domestic and foreign manufacturers. The drug tender list consisted of 548 products, 1,315,501 pharmaceutical units and 312 drug entities, among which 164 were essential. For purchasing purposes, 479 drug formulations were selected, costing approximately 1.4 million Euros (approximately 10% of hospital budget). Three-quarters of the expenditure consisted of antimicrobials (29.1%), cytotoxics (28.8%) and intravenous infusions (17.7%). The top 20 drugs consumed 62.2% of the total drug expenditure. Competition for the most expensive and/or most used drugs was the key for financial success of applicants, even when they offered a limited number of drugs. The tender achieved 4.6% and 17.2% cost savings in comparison with minimal tender price and free-market price, respectively. The tender did not provide a fair balance between domestic and foreign manufacturers.
Conclusion: The drug tender is resource-consuming, laborious, and risky job. Aggregation of individual tenders, on a national level and/or regional ones, is probably the best choice for hospitals in transition countries at this time.