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Shaking Up European Drug Prices

For some time there have been rumblings in the industry of whether it is possible to price drugs based on how well they work. Indeed, the true therapeutic benefits of drugs have been in the spotlight ever since governments started to more closely assess the cost effectiveness of treatments and what could be funded by healthcare systems. In Europe, it seems as if the concept of a radical shift in pricing is under serious consideration. A document due to be discussed by the board of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has been leaked that reportedly sets out a “roadmap for change towards outcomes-based reward systems”. The leaked document was obtained by Reuters (1).

EFPIA was unaware that the document had been leaked until the publication of a Reuters article, but has acknowledged its existence, explaining that the document was developed in response to the affordability challenges faced by healthcare systems. Understandably, the association has been cagey about the details. “The internal EFPIA document referenced in the [Reuters] article was developed by a working group from across the EFPIA membership, to support continued dialogue with governments and healthcare systems in finding solutions to make medicines accessible and healthcare more sustainable, whilst securing future medical innovation,” explained EFPIA in a statement (2). “In the future, we believe we can contribute to more sustainable healthcare systems by developing new pricing models, such as outcomes-based, or value-based contracts.”

A pricing system based on outcomes would not be without risk to the industry. “If a product does not deliver on its clinical promise, society should not continue to pay for it,” the document reportedly states. But on the flip side, it does mean that drugs that deliver high value will be rewarded. EFPIA adds that a number of countries have already started to develop outcomes- or value-based contracts. The document, however, suggests a more wholesale adoption of such systems. Another element reportedly discussed in the document is a move away from external reference pricing; currently, governments tend to examine prices in other countries to assess what they will pay for drugs.

The document is set to be discussed by the EFPIA board in mid-June.

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  1. Reuters, “Industry weighs radical shake-up of European drug pricing”, (2016). Available at: Accessed June 14, 2016.
  2. EFPIA, “EFPIA response to Reuters article “Industry weighs radical shake up of European Drug Pricing”, (2016). Available at: Accessed June 14, 2016.
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Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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