The European Commission and OECD – Health at a Glance: Europe 2018 –recommends further use of generic and biosimilar medicines to further tackle wasteful spending in healthcare systems. The uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines varies widely across countries despite the opportunities to treat more patients and improve the sustainability of healthcare budgets. There is a need for more demand-side policies and incentives to encourage the use of generic and biosimilar medicines.
Another recent publication from the European Commission “Inequalities in access to healthcare – A study of national policies 2018” highlights that most healthcare systems need to improve equality of access to healthcare. Since 2014, spending on new originator pharmaceuticals has risen due to a wave of new medicines in areas such as hepatitis C and oncology[i],[ii].
While these treatments bring hope to patients, pharmaceutical budgets struggle to pay for high-priced innovations. This has led to short-term cost-containment measures in pharmaceuticals which are undermining the sustainability and supply of essential off-patent medicines. This has led to withdrawals of medicines and a reduction of competition in several countries[iii].
Adrian van den Hoven, Medicines for Europe Director General mentions: “Improving better and more equitable access to medicines should be prioritized in Europe. This requires pro-generic and pro-biosimilar medicines policies based on healthy competition. Cutting spending on essential medicines to pay for high priced new medicines is a recipe for poorer access to medicines for Europeans.”
[i] Hello, $200B: Super-pricey new cancer drugs drive mega increases in treatment spending – https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/as-cancer-treatment-becomes-more-targeted-global-costs-are-heading-to-200b-report
[ii] IQVIA – Global Oncology Trends 2018 Innovation, Expansion and Disruption; https://www.iqvia.com/institute/reports/global-oncology-trends-2018
[iii] Medicines for Europe Reading List on Medicines’ shortages – https://www.medicinesforeurope.com/docs/20170927%20-%20Medicine%20shortages%20-%20Reading%20list_final.pdf