05 July 2019 - Authored by:Alex Crespo van de Kooij
On 2 July 2019, the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of a proposed amendment of the Medicines Prices Act. The amendment would result in Norway replacing Germany as one of the four reference countries for the maximum prices of medicines in the Netherlands. Belgium, France and the UK are the other three. The Medicines Prices Act holds that the price for a type of medicine in the Netherlands may not be higher than the average of the four reference countries.
According to the Minister for Healthcare, the German prices are very high. Therefore, he proposed using Norwegian prices instead. He explained that his proposal will result in a substantive cost reduction and guarantees that Dutch patients will keep their access to medicines. Several Members of Parliament appeared to agree, stating inter alia that the Minister found the right balance between affordability and availability. Other Members of Parliament welcomed the proposal by the Minister, but argued that he should do even more, for example by applying the Norwegian calculation method. The Minister holds the opinion that this could prevent medicine producers from selling their products in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Hospital Association supports the amendment, but has also expressed its concerns about the effect on purchase discounts and the availability of and access to new medicines. The Innovative Medicines Association holds the opinion that the amendment goes too far, arguing that it focuses too much on savings and too little on availability, which could affect access to medicines for Dutch patients.
The amendment is still subject to the vote of the Dutch Senate. If the Senate votes in favour, the amended Act is expected to be in force from 1 April 2020.
A prior version of this post was originally published by the same author in Practical Law – Life Sciences, July 2019 Issue (Thomson Reuters).