Increased rationing of new pharmaceuticals

As is shown by the new EHCI, (indicators 6.3 – 6.5, explained in section 9.11.6), saving on the introduction/deployment of drugs, particularly novel, patented (expensive) drugs, seems to be a very popular tactic for containing healthcare costs in many countries. This has been observed also in previous HCP Indices.

While thorough healthcare reform is quite demanding and efforts to trim budgets such as discharging healthcare staff or closing of hospitals are politically controversial and often cause bad media publicity, rationing of access to (new) medicines generally passes under the radar of media and policy formers.

The rationing measures are particularly obvious for Greece – a country, which traditionally has been a quick and ready adopter of novel drugs. The Greek public bill for prescription drugs was 8 billion euro as late as 2010, for 11 million people. As a comparison, the Swedish corresponding number was 4 billion euro for 9½ million people – drug prices have traditionally been lower in Greece. That Greek readiness to introduce new drugs has dropped dramatically, along with the introduction of generic substitution.

Interestingly, also wealthy countries such as Sweden and Switzerland have used the tactic of extending the delay between registration of a drug and its inclusion in the pharmacy benefits systems. According to EFPIA data, both countries have prolonged this period by ~50 days between 2011 and 2012.

There are reasons to believe that this trend is here to stay for some time.

Please feel free to use this material, referring to the source: Euro Health Consumer Index 2013.