Thanks, It was interesting!
But about Europe I found a research in the consumer league of Tuscany website and I'm going to email this:
-quote from http://www.legaconsumatoritoscana.it...bonati_bmj.doc
Why diverse prices of infant formula in Europe never seems harmonised?
The benefits of breast-milk over artificial formula are unquestionable, and the matter is of interest to more than 3 million European new-borns and families/year, but the efforts to promote, protect and monitoring breast-feeding are, again, minute compared to the marketing actions.1 In March 2000 the Italian Competition Authority imposed a penalty of 3 million euros to six of the major infant formula manufacturers (present not only in Italy) because they had agreed on fixed prices in order to avoid competition and to share the market.2 Three years ago it was documented that artificial formula milk price differentials in EU were high, in particular in Italy.3
To evaluate the present situation, a similar assessment was repeated and implemented.
Methods and Results
On a single day, the same product (one of the best-selling powdered starting formulas in Italy), and package size (900 g), as the one used for the comparison three years before, was bought in pharmacies in Italy (Milan), France (Paris), Spain (Barcelona), United Kingdom (London) and Germany (Bonn). The distressing findings were the same. The price ranged from €16.38 (Bonn) to €34.00 (Milan), with small differences between France, Spain, United Kingdom and Germany, but with a large difference between these countries and Italy. No correlation was observed between formula price and the price of a controlled product (a well-selling car in Europe was chosen as an example), income, inflation, annual births, or rate of breastfed children (table).
Cost of reference infant milk formula and of reference car, income, inflation rate, annual birth, and breastfed children, in four European countries
Cost Formula (€/g)Cost Car* (€)GNI per head† (€)HICP‡Annual no. of births° (thousands)Children exclusively breastfed at 4 months§ (%)
Italy0.037714 33320 0102.251137
Spain0.019614 57014 9603.036044
France0.018913 73123 6701.773215
United Kingdom0.018614 07524 5000.866828
Germany0.018214 57025 0501.871833
*Price after tax of the same basic model; source European Commission on car prices. †Gross National Income; source World Bank. ‡Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices for food, as percentage change on corresponding month of previous year; source EUROSTAT. °Source UNICEF. §Source WHO Regional Office for Europe.
The price differencials are still substantial and unacceptable inside a “common community”. In Italy breast-milk substitutes are listed in the National Compendia as drugs and parapharmaceutical products and are sold prevalently in pharmacies, compared to other EU countries, where they are sold also in other shops. Italian consumers are therefore led to believe that these are health goods and that, like drugs, they are regulated and monitored by the health authority.
Medical professionals, however, could also help support breast-feeding and limit extreme overpricing. In fact, formula companies are continuing to offer economic support to medical paediatric and obstetric societies, fund meetings and journals (too often of questionable scientific value), give gadgets, and donate medical instrumentation. All these actions affect the price of formula significantly and their costs fall on the families. Thus, if something is moving in the drug field concerning direct and indirect conflicts of interest, and evaluation of information, it doesn’t involve the relationship between scientific societies, medical professionals, and the formula industry.4
Because of the impotence, or incapacity to take steps to regulate such inequality at a national level, only EU initiatives could possibly be effective. The breast-milk-substitute business, compared to other important market segments such as drugs or cars, can only be of secondary importance for harmonisation and transparency across EU countries. However, taking into account the large number of interested families, that the differences of prices are to add to the lack of a national policy on feeding infants (situation common to other countries, i.e. UK)5, and that the EU, and the common market, is expanding the situations such as the Italian one are likely to become more common.
Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, Istituto di Ricerche "Mario Negri", Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milan, Italy (e-mail: [email protected]
1. Waterston T, Tumwine J. Monitoring the marketing of infant formula feeds. BMJ 2003; 326: 113-4.
2. Provvedimento n. 8087 (1328) Latte artificiale per neonato, 2 marzo 2000. (http://www.agcm.it/index.htm
3. Bonati M. Why such diverse prices of infant formula in Europe? Lancet 2000; 355: 321-2.
4. Tamburlini G, Marolla L, Bonati M. Italian paediatric association has launched code on competing interests. BMJ 2000; 320: 382
5. Sachs M. WHO’s global strategy is tool to protect breast feeding and child health. BMJ 2003; 326:984.
So, in Germany breastfeeding rates at 4 monts are 33% and the cost of artificial milk is 16,38 Euro, while in Italy breastfeeding rates at 4 months are 37% and the cost of the artificial milk is 34,00 Euro. It seems that the companies that make the artificial milk are telling lies!
Now we can attack them.