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Rösler vows high drug prices to fall

DDP/The Local · 10 Feb 2010, 18:26

Published: 10 Feb 2010 18:26 GMT+01:00

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“The Health Ministry will put forward a co-ordinated plan to get average drug prices permanently under control,” he said after meeting with statutory health insurers.

Rösler said this applied even to new and innovative drugs for which manufacturers insist they have to charge heavily in order to recoup the high cost of research and development.

The cost-benefit analysis the government uses to appraise drugs would play a role in this, according to the minister.

The shot across the bow of Big Pharma was surprising because Rösler's party, the Free Democrats (FDP), are traditionally close to the pharmaceutical industry as well as doctors and pharmacies, meaning cost-savings in the health sector are not normally core issues for the party.

On the contrary, the FDP reportedly played the key role in forcing out Peter Sawicki as head of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care because he had been a tough critic of the industry.

After hospitals and general practitioners, drugs are the third biggest cost to the health system.

Many common drugs in Germany are more expensive than elsewhere in Europe or even in the United States.

Rösler met on Wednesday in Berlin with the heads of some of the statutory health insurers, who made concrete proposals about how to save money on pharmaceuticals.

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Thomas Ballast, head of the Association of Health Insurers, said: “It is now the policy to bring this discussion process to an end and to take up some suggestions.”

The goal above all is to ensure that the pharmaceutical firms are no longer so free to set the price for their products. The health funds agreed on the need for a greater legally mandated discount from companies along with lower sales tax.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:54 February 11, 2010 by ColoSlim
Why is aspirin so expensive? It is not a new drug. What about a generic drug alternative program? Drug companies can charge what ever they like for 5 years and then patent goes out to generic manufacturers who make a discount version. Beware of any plan that discourages drug companies from developing new drugs.
11:01 February 11, 2010 by HIGNFY
The pharmacy companies have a huge lobby in Germany and can dictate their prices. Their argument is that R&D for new and better drugs is expensive and somebody has to pay for it. They also employ a huge amount of people.

In addition, drugs like Aspirin are in Germany 'Apothekenpflichtig' which reduces competition and inflates the price. In most other countries Aspirin can be bought in discount Drugstores.

A few years ago Ulla Schmidt tried to introduce a 'Price List' for drugs which got hammered by the lobbyists and didn't get even make it to the starting post.

This is a brave attempt by Rösler but it might cost him political career.
15:55 February 13, 2010 by aceroni
Off-the-counter drugs should be available at normal supermarkets in Germany, like in USA or UK. That would introduce more choice at much better price. Farmacists are the same all over the world and will never make competition with each other.
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