Wasted medication

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Pharmaceutical prescription report recognizes further savings potential in expenditure

The Federal Government had already made efforts in the past to work out ways to save on pharmaceutical expenditure. According to the experts, even billions more could be saved after evaluating the last report.

The published drug prescription report puts the savings potential at a total of 3.7 billion euros. Germany is still too expensive compared to other countries, especially when it comes to patented medicinal products, explained the two editors Ulrich Schwabe and Dieter Paffrath. The report attests that the measures to reduce costs in the pharmaceutical sector are effective. A price freeze applies to expensive medicines and manufacturers must also pay a discount on patented medicines.

For some time now, new drugs that have been brought onto the market have been examined for their added benefits. The determined degree of this additional benefit ultimately also determines the price. The responsible Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) has so far subjected 48 new active ingredients to such a benefit assessment. In most cases, the health insurance companies can then negotiate the prices with the manufacturers. This process has so far saved 120 million euros. The declared savings target of two billion euros, however, is nowhere near being achieved.

If you consider that the higher manufacturer discount and the price freeze will only apply until the end of the year, the previous results are even more critical. Patented drugs are simply too expensive. With the so-called analog preparations alone, his further jump-in of at least 2.5 billion euros is possible, explained Paffrath.

It is characteristic of analog preparations that they differ only minimally from preparations that have already been introduced. The fact that the usual medicines from the existing market are now being tested for their additional benefits was rated positively. In this context, the G-BA is investigating a number of active substances. Overall, according to the report, pharmaceutical spending by the statutory health insurance funds rose to 30.6 billion last year, which corresponds to an increase of 2.6 percent. In 2011, drug expenditure had dropped for the first time in years.

According to Uwe Deh, head of the AOK federal association, an increase in drug and vaccine spending is expected in 2013 similar to the previous year. The AOK Scientific Institute (WidO) even predicts a significant increase in its forecast for 2014. Deh therefore called for the expiring manufacturer discount of 16 percent and the price freeze for certain medicines to be extended by a further two years.

For the report, which was first published in 1985, a total of 716 million prescriptions were evaluated by more than 143,000 contract doctors. What is new is that the prescriptions of around 60,500 dentists have also been included in the evaluation. (fr)

Image: Andreas Hermsdorf / pixelio.de

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