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Through patents: Rising pharmaceutical costs are burdening more and more patients


Patents drive prices up: pharmaceutical costs in Germany at record levels
Pharmaceutical costs in Germany rose to a new record last year. This is due in particular to patented medications that cause enormous additional costs. According to experts, the German market is "particularly expensive".

Pharmaceutical spending has been increasing for years
Pharmaceutical expenditure in Germany has increased significantly in recent years. It has long been reported that doctors are prescribing more and more medication, but that is not the main reason for the cost increase. Rather, it is due to patented medications that cost many times over.

Another record reached
Pharmaceutical expenditure in statutory health insurance (GKV) rose again in 2015 and reached a new high of € 37.0 billion, according to a statement from the AOK Scientific Institute. This development means an increase of 4.3 percent over the previous year. The market analysis of the 2016 prescription report shows how such an increase in expenditure occurs.

"First of all, changed dosage forms and the prescription of usually larger pack sizes lead to an increase in sales," writes the institute. And: “Second, the significant part of the increase in sales is due to the high costs, especially for patent medicines. New drugs in particular are coming onto the market at ever higher prices. ”

Enormous additional expenses for patented medicines
According to the new Pharmaceutical Ordinance Report commissioned by the AOK federal association, expenditure on patent-protected medicines in 2015 totaled 14.9 billion euros. Compared to the previous year, these were additional costs of 1.3 billion euros. The report's publishers also mention effective cost brakes such as early benefit assessment, which is used to determine the benefit of a drug.

"But this sum could have been significantly higher if the Amnog had not been softened in many places," criticized the report's editor, Ulrich Schwabe, according to a report by the AFP news agency. Amnog stands for the 2011 law on the reorganization of the pharmaceutical market.

The costs of this policy are passed on to patients
Among other things, the expert criticized the abolition of the existing market valuation, which had valued drugs that had been on the market for a long time. According to Schwabe, Germany is still a "high-price country" for pharmaceuticals. "The costs for this policy are passed on to German patients."

For example, the average pharmacy sales price of a patented drug in 2015 was around EUR 369, which was almost 13 times higher on average than that of generic drugs, which cost around EUR 29. Generics are copycat drugs that are already on the market and contain the same active ingredients.

The German market is proving to be particularly expensive
The German market has also proven to be "particularly expensive" in a European comparison, said Jürgen Klauber, managing director of the AOK Scientific Institute, according to AFP. He referred to scientific studies that put the theoretical savings potential at 3.2 billion euros.

In the case of cancer drugs in particular, specialists are seeing a steady increase in costs. "When developing new cancer therapies, the economic interest of pharmaceutical companies is often in the foreground," said Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, chairman of the drug commission of the German medical profession. In his opinion, clinical studies are aimed at quick approval rather than convincing therapeutic progress.

The head of the AOK federal association, Martin Litsch, also accused the government of inability to act. "There is currently no adequate antidote to politics for the high price development of patent-protected drugs," said the expert. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Whats the Prescription for Lowering Drug Prices? Catalina Gorla. TEDxBeaconStreet (September 2020).