Press review

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Drug spend expected to increase in Spain's Andalusia region

MADRID, 4 Jan (APM) - Following the regional election, the alliance of right-wing parties about to take office plans to abolish drug tenders in Andalusia, increasing the region’s drug bill, daily El País reported on Thursday.
According to the newspaper, two days before the general election in 2012, when conservative party PP was expected to win [they eventually did not], the government of Andalusia met with representatives of all the pharmaceutical companies whose products were included in the first tendering process, El País said.
Only four companies attended. They said that Spanish health minister Ana Mato had personally called them to let them know that when her party took office their first move would be to abolish the tenders. This did not happen.
However, seven years later, the PP is one step away from governing Andalusia, pending an alliance with Ciudadanos (the Citizens' party). One of the first moves planned is to end tenders in the region. This procedure reduced the drug bill in the region by €177 million in 2017, according to El País.
In Spain, tendering procedures are not unusual in hospital settings, but Andalusia is the only region which allows tenders for medicines sold in community pharmacies. If a patient has a prescription based on an active principle, he will not be sold a generic drug but the drug which won the tender, the newspaper said.
The price of drugs is determined by the Spanish ministry of health and cannot be altered. However, pharmacies used to negotiate with manufacturers, obtaining better deals for other products whose prices could be changed. Once tenders are enforced, community pharmacists no longer benefit from those negotiations, and savings go directly to the regional government.
The reimbursed medicines are sold at the same price, but manufacturers send money directly to the region’s finance department for the amount they offered to discount, depending on monthly sales of the products put out to tender, El País noted.
If conservative parties PP and Ciudadanos take office, something which should happen over the next 100 days, tenders will be abolished “urgently”. Both parties consider tenders are to blame for shortages, poorer drug access compared to other regions where more options are available for patients, and lower quality drugs sold in the region, the newspaper added.

Lower reference prices enforced on 1 January

Spain’s latest update of reference prices, enforced on 1 January, includes price cuts for 1,200 reimbursed drugs, daily El País reported on 18 December.
New reference prices will reduce the country’s drug bill by €88 million, according to the General Council of Official Pharmacists Colleges. A total of 497 hospital drugs will also see their prices drop, El País reported.
On Wednesday, daily La Razón carried a story about new reference prices, with the headline: “Your headache already costs 36% less”. Substantial price cuts will affect a number of medicines, including some which are prescribed to treat high cholesterol, arthrosis, glaucoma and hypertension.
Many of these drugs are commonly used, namely escitalopram (for depression), etoricoxib (for arthritis and arthrosis), levonorgestrel (birth control), ibuprofen (NSAID), paracetamol (pain), rosuvastatin (hypercholesterolemia), budesonide and salbutamol (asthma) among others, La Razón reported.
A number of regional newspapers also carried the story this week.

Record acquisitions in 2018

Pharmaceutical companies broke records with a 31% increase to $486 billion devoted to acquisitions last year, financial Expansión reported on Sunday.
Takeda's takeover of Shire was highlighted in the story as the biggest operation in 2018. (APMHE 60907)
Pharma is one of the most active industries in terms of acquisitions. The financial quoted data by Dealogic as showing that gobal acquisitions [in all industries] grew 14% in 2018. Tech was the leader with acquisitions worth over $634 billion, Expansión reported.
On Friday, financials El Economista, Cinco Días and daily El País report that BMS will buy Celgene in a €64.9 billion deal, "the biggest in pharma history". (APMHE 61277)
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