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More drug price cuts in Greece
  August 20, 2010
Lynne Taylor
Greece has announced that the price of certain drugs are to be reduced 10.41% and that it is drawing up a second list of medicines which will no longer be eligible for reimbursement.
The 10.41% retail price cuts announced by the economics ministry will be for a range of drugs used in the treatment of serious diseases, licensed for hospital use or prescribing by specialists only, and provisions will be put in place to enable patients to obtain them from pharmacies. The drugs involved have not been identified, but analysts at IHS Global Insight suggest that they will include biotechnology drugs used in the treatment of cancer, and possibly some orphan products. What is certain, they add, is that products whose prices are now to be cut will not be those which were included in the average 27% across-the-board price cut introduced by the government on a temporary basis in May.
Meantime, the national organisation for medicines (EOF) is preparing a second "negative" list of drugs that will no longer be entitled to reimbursement. 842 products will be on the list, including many for which over-the-counter (OTC) versions are already available, such as vitamin supplements, laxatives, antacids and obesity treatments, but the newspaper Naftemporiki reports that it will also include drugs which are generally prescription-only, such as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and treatments for erectile dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and smoking cessation.
Naftemporiki also reports that the introduction of the first negative list, in May, has resulted in a significant decline in sales of many of the 253 drugs for which reimbursement was withdrawn. This could indicate that some patients are no longer accessing essential drugs, which may lead to manufacturers cutting their prices to ensure that they can still afford the treatments they need after they are no longer reimbursed, it says.
In other news, it is reported that the repricing of around 12,000 drugs, based on the average of the three lowest-priced countries in the European Union (EU), has being delayed, but the new prices are expected to be implemented on September 1. They will replace May's average 27% temporary cuts.
Will other pharma firms start pulling drugs from Greece?
June 02, 2010
Kevin Grogan
In the wake of Novo Nordisk and LeoPharma's announcement that a number of their medicines will no longer be sold in Greece, following the government's decision to cut drug prices by 25%, analysts have been weighing up the implications of the Danish drugmakers' move and the potential of similar actions from other pharmaceutical companies.
IHS Global Insight healthcare analyst Brendan Melck notes a report in the Financial Times which says that Merck KGaA has submitted an appeal against the price cuts to the Greek government, stating that they are "unjustifiable on any legal or scientific basis." Also a spokesman for AstraZeneca is quoted by Reuters as saying that, like Merck, it does not plan to withdraw any products from Greece at this stage, although it questions the legality of the decision.
Mr Melck notes that considering the continued lack of repayment of the substantial debts owed by the Greek healthcare authorities to drugmakers, "there is unlikely to be a great deal of sympathy from the producers". However, he says the actions of Novo and Leo "will doubtless be painted in terms of 'putting profits before patients' in certain spheres in Greece, however inaccurate this sentiment is".
He adds that Leo has given the Greek government a notice period in which to reconsider the price cuts and this leaves open the possibility that some kind of compromise may be reached, something that is more likely if the Greek economy stabilises. Mr Melck adds that producers of medium-to-high priced drugs stand to lose the most from the Greek price cuts: the cost of reimbursed drugs costing between 1.01 and 5 euros per unit have been cut by 5%, while those priced between 5.01 and 20 euros per unit have been cut by 20%, with three further tiers of cuts, up to 27%.
Therefore, Mr Melck argues, it is to be expected that more producers of drugs in these categories will follow suit. As yet, he adds, no generics firms have voiced any intention to withdraw from the Greek market, despite the fact that their products are subject to an extra 10% reduction on top of the tiered price cut.
Greek drug price cuts "to save 1.9 billion euros a year"
May 06, 2010
Lynne Taylor
Greece's new drug price regulations introduced this week will reduce prices by an average of 21.5%, with the aim of saving 1.9 billion euros annually, the government has announced.
The contents of the finally-introduced regulations differ from initial announcements from the Finance Ministry, which had stated that the price cuts would average 30% and apply to 1,551 medicines. However, the measure introduced this week will cover 12,500 products, 2,500 of which are originator products and the rest are generics, according to statements by the Ministry of Economy, Competition and Shipping reported by the business newspaper Naftemporiki.
The weighted average of the price reductions will be 21.5%, and this is expected to produce savings estimated at 1.9 billion euros a year, says the report. The price adjustments are as follows: - products whose wholesale price is no more than 1 euro will not be subject to price cuts; - for products with a wholesale price of 1.01-5 euros, the price will go down 3%; - the reduction for those whose wholesale price is 5.01-20 euros will be 20%; - those priced at 20-50 euros will be cut by 23%; - products with prices of 50-100 euros will be reduced by 25%; - and those priced at over 100 euros will be reduced by up to 27%.
Orphan drugs and medicines produced from blood products will be exempted from price cuts.
Commenting on the price cuts, IHS Global Insight pharmaceuticals analyst Brendan Melck forecasts that, given that many European countries set their maximum prices in relation to prices in other European Union (EU) countries, the new prices in Greece will bring down the reference price for drugs in other EU countries. He notes the government's argument that, given Greece's major economic crisis, it has no option other than to take such measures, and that officials also point out that the prices of many drugs in Greece are higher than in other EU countries.
However, pharmaceutical industry leaders in the country have warned that the regulations will result in drug shortages on the domestic market, including of some important medicines, as the marketing of certain products in Greece will no longer be viable economically.
"The impact of the regulations - both on the Greek pharma sector and the regional pharma sector as a whole - will become clearer in the coming months," says Mr Melck.
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