April 21, 2023 -Durt Fibo


To close the week, on Friday Italy decided to make oral contraceptives available to all women for free. This health provision is already active in some neighboring European countries, but Italy actually surpassed France, where the program only applies to woman up to the age of 25. The neo-fascist government headed by Giorgia Melloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party – mustered under the Mussolini motto “Dio, Patria, Famiglia” (“God, homeland, family”) – took this enormous step on the recommendation of AIFA (Agenzia Italiana del farmaco; The Italian Medical Agency).

Since 2004, AIFA has been the national authority responsible for regulating drugs in Italy. It is organized as a public body operating autonomously and, by law, transparently, yet must also placate the many revolving governments with rationales based on cost-effectiveness criteria. As an agency, it works under the direction of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy. AIFA coordinates with the regional authorities, the National Institute of Health, Research Institutes, Patients’ Associations, Health Professionals, Scientific Associations the Pharmaceutical Industry and its distributors.

Friday’s package further includes the free distribution of “Prep”, considered in Italy to be a pre-exposure anti-HIV prophylaxis. Prep (tenofovir and emtricitabine), which aims to prevent HIV infection in subjects at risk, will be distributed through hospitals only with a prescription.

Disparaged by the Catholic Church and ‘tradition’ oriented politics, the use of contraceptives by Italian woman has historically been low also because its costs are burdensome, but both AIFA and the government are expecting this new approach to modernize the country’s social care. Naturally, many politicians had to become convinced of the benefits before approving what is anticipated to be a 140 million euro undertaking.