Monday, 17 May 2010

Germany - How will the German government deal with large deficits seen within the health insurance sector?

The government has proposed a package of reforms aimed at easing the financial problems of statutory health insurers.

In March 2010, the coalition parties agreed on a package of reforms which the government hopes to bring into force by 2011. The proposals includes an increase of the mandatory discount for patented drugs sold to the statutory health system from the current 6% to 16%, which could potentially save 1.1 billion euros (US$1.4 billion). In addition, prices will be frozen at August 2009 levels until the end of 2013, and the current fixed price system for some patented drugs, as well as the discount price contract system for generic, or copied drugs, will be retained.

The government is focusing primarily on a new system to set prices for new, innovative drugs, which the Health Minister claims entirely accounted for the increase in drug spending in 2009. Manufacturers will have the freedom to set prices themselves for the first year of a drug being on the market, but it will need to compile a dossier on its costs and benefits, which will be assessed by the authorities. If the drug does not offer additional benefit to medications already available, it will immediately be put under the fixed price system. The prices of drugs which do offer additional benefit will be subject to central negotiation on prices for the statutory system.

The proposals have angered industry associations which had been promised deregulation for the drug sector when the coalition government was formed, and noted that the system would jeopardise investment prospects. The plans were welcomed by the GKV, however.

Further reading - An in-depth review of the German pharmaceutical market is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: Germany (published May 2010)

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