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Boehringer criticises German drug price freeze

And repeats demand for update of HTA system
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Boehringer Ingelheim has hit out against plans in Germany to extend a price freeze on prescription drug spend until 2017.

The German Government voted in March this year to extend the policy, which was originally supposed to expire at the end of 2013, in an effort to achieve annual savings of about €650m.

Speaking at the company's annual conference this month, Boehringer's financial head Hubertus von Baumbach criticised the decision, explaining that it means Boehringer “will not even be able to bring the prices of our medicines into line with price developments in the German economy”.

Such cost-cutting measures have the potential to weaken the pharma industry in Germany, according to von Baumbach, who explained that Boehringer's net sales in the country amounted to less than 10 per cent of its global sales, yet 30 per cent of its workforce were employed in the country.

“Boehringer Ingelhiem's importance for the stability and future viability of Germany as a business location is immense,” said von Baumbach.

“Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for research-based pharmaceutical companies to continue to run a successful pharmaceutical business in Germany.”

Von Baumbach's comments echoed similar concerns made at last year's conference, where he said the country's tough market access measures made it difficult for companies to continue to invest in the country.

Boehringer's experience of this includes its inability to convince health technology assessment (HTA) body IQWIG to recommend diabetes treatment Trajenta (linagliptin), although the company has had more recent success with the likes of cancer drug Giotrif.

Speaking to journalists at this year's conference, Boehringer's chair Andreas Barner reiterated the desire to amend the way drug reimbursement decisions are made in Germany.

“We have a situation where those responsible for making a decision on whether there is additional benefit for a new medicine are those who, at the same time, have incentives related to funding,” he said.

“Therefore a fair debate does not take place and that makes life difficult.

“I don't believe the system can continue as it is. Although whether that takes 10 years or 1000 years I'm not sure.”

For Barner, a key part of any potential change means separating value and funding.

“I have to ask if decisions are science based or money based. If you don't have the means to  pay for innovation then its is a different topic. But I would separate it from the science. In the current system the two things are being mingled and it's not good for the industry.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

25th April 2014

From: Sales

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