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German drug pricing system denies patients new medicines says EFPIA

Industry calls for overhaul of new AMNOG system of reimbursement

Richard Bergstrom - EFPIA

Germany's system of drug reimbursement needs to change in order to protect patient access to new medicines, according to European pharma trade bodies.

In a joint statement from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA), the organisations have called on the German government to overhaul changes to the system implemented in 2011, following a string of new medicines that have failed to launch.

Specific aspects cited by EFPIA director general Richard Bergström included a 16 per cent rebate for newly launched products as well as the introduction of an international reference pricing system that sets German prices based on other markets, including Greece.

In addition, a price comparator system that includes generic medicines to judge the price of a new medicine was also criticised.

“The net effect is that German citizens will not benefit from access to innovative therapies that are available to citizens across Europe and the rest of the world,” said Bergström.

This has included German firm Boehringer Ingelheim's decision not to launch diabetes treatment Trajenta in its home country, with chair Andreas Barner calling for changes to the AMNOG reimbursement system himself during the company's annual conference, referencing the choice of comparator medicine as the main point of contention.

This inflexibility of the scheme's comparator products was one of the main issues addressed by the EFPIA, with the body claiming that a “more thoughtful and interactive” choice of treatments to compare new drugs with was needed.

“Unfortunately, many of my member companies have been forced to announce that several new medicines will not be made available in Germany, because the model seeks to base the price for new medicines on what is paid for much older, generic medicines,” said Bergström.

“This is not good for German patients and not good for the country as it strives to retain companies and attract new investments. AMNOG is in a learning-phase.”

The new reference system of pricing was deemed unsuitable due to the difference in economic standings of the included countries, which might affect drug prices disproportionately.

“When trying to benefit from lower prices in Greece, German policy makers fail to acknowledge that some countries have to pay more to sustain innovation,” said Bergström. “And Germany has benefited more than most countries from investments by the pharmaceutical industry.”

The need for change to retain Germany's position as a major player in the European pharma industry was backed by Birgit Fischer, director general of VFA.

She said: “Growth will only come from sectors that innovate. A key way forward is to invest in research and development, in order to keep Germany and Europe capable of competing.

“The path chosen by the German government poses a challenge to patient health and to the reputation of Germany as a home of innovation. These are difficult issues. They need to be addressed in partnership.”

  • For a background on Germany's system of drug reimbursement, see our webinar AMNOG - One year on

11th June 2012

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