New drugs: Only one in three has additional benefits for patients
Expenditure on pharmaceuticals has increased dramatically in recent years. New drugs, which tend to be more expensive, also add to the cost of healthcare. However, a large proportion of the medicines that are new on the market have no additional benefit for patients.
Expensive medication without additional benefits
At the beginning of last year, it was reported that pharmaceutical expenditure in Germany reached a new record high. Cost drivers include new, expensive drugs for diseases such as hepatitis C or cancer. If the medicines ensure that diseases can be better treated, price increases are more understandable. But many medications have no additional benefits.
Every third new drug is of no benefit to the patient
As the newspapers of the Funke Media Group report, every third new drug on the market has no additional benefit for patients. This shows an interim balance of the statutory health insurance companies. Previously, all new drugs had been tested for their benefits and costs for five years.
According to the information, the statutory health insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers have been negotiating prices for 129 drugs since 2012. Of these preparations, only 44, i.e. about a third, would have a clearly demonstrable additional benefit for the patients.
Another third (41 medicines) have no advantage over known therapies, the rest only for some of the patients.
Reform remained below expectations
It is said that a large part of the new drugs that have come onto the market in recent years are intended for the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases such as hepatitis or for metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Price negotiations and benefit assessment are the result of a 2011 pharmaceutical market reform that should help limit spending on medicines. However, the balance sheet of the health insurers showed that the reform fell short of expectations.
A total of around 2.5 billion euros could be saved in the five years, but originally two billion euros were supposed to come together each year.
Doctors need information about the benefits of new drugs
The health insurance companies still assess the balance positively: "The benefit assessment and the price negotiations offer an opportunity to improve the quality of the drug supply," said the vice-chief of the umbrella association of health insurance companies, Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, to the newspapers of the Funke media group. "It helps to separate the wheat from the chaff."
It is now time for further development. "Resident physicians need to get quick and detailed information about the benefits of new drugs," says von Stackelberg.
"Only when they know which drugs are really better can they take good care of their patients," said the association manager.
Counteract the influence of the pharmaceutical industry
The problem has existed for a long time. Already last year, Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) had announced in a message that doctors, pharmaceutical companies, patients and health insurers have long been demanding that the Medicines Market Reorganization Act (AMNOG) and thus the results of the early benefit assessment have to reach the doctor's office.
"At the moment, some patients are not getting new therapies quickly enough, others are getting expensive preparations that have no added benefit," said Tim Steimle, Head of the Pharmaceuticals Department at TK, at Pharma 2016 in Frankfurt.
"We therefore hope that the decisions of the Federal Joint Committee will be more closely involved in the regulation decision," said the telecommunications expert. Taking the results of the early benefit assessment into account in the medical guidelines would not only support doctors in the choice of therapy, but would also counteract the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the guidelines.
"The doctor is currently in conflict. It should take the guidelines into account, but they often give a different recommendation than the early benefit assessment, ”explained Steimle.
Minister of Health's plans
"The benefit assessment of medicines and the subsequent price negotiations lead to cost savings for the insured," said Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU) to the Funke newspapers.
According to him, the new regulations that he is planning should help to ensure that patients “continue to have quick access to new high-quality medicines” and that the healthcare system “remains financially sustainable”. (ad)