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Rösler vows high drug prices to fall

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Rösler vows high drug prices to fall
Photo: DPA
18:26 CET+01:00
Big pharmaceutical firms have been put on notice that the government plans to crack down on high drug prices, with German Health Minister Philipp Rösler vowing Wednesday to bring prices “under control.”

“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.

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.

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