BERLIN, Jan 22 (APM) - German statutory health insurers should not “go overboard” in the battle with pharmas for cheaper drugs, Jens Spahn, the ruling Christian Democratic party’s health speaker has said.
Speaking to German business magazine Capital, Spahn said Germany’s four-year-old price negotiation system is “in principle correct” but “we have to be careful that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in one direction,” referring to the German payers’ efforts to rein in the costs of expensive therapies such as Gilead’s 700-euro-pill Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) in hepatitis C.
“Drugs with real added benefit are definitely allowed to cost more than existing therapies - major innovations should cost considerably more,” said Spahn in the Wednesday interview.
His statement comes just days after German payer umbrella group GKV Spitzenverband and U.S. pharma Gilead failed to agree to a price for Sovaldi by the January 17 deadline. (APMHE 41152
According to the magazine, Gilead has defended its Sovaldi pricing policy by saying its drug, unlike others, cures most hep C patients. Still, the huge price tag has sparked a debate about the health system’s financial sustainability, with Italy (APMHE 40714
) and France (APMHE 40512
) among European payers negotiating hard for lower price.
However, Spahn said a modern health system is dependent on the success of pharma innovations and one of the major questions is how much a new drug is worth if it extends life by months or years.
Don't squeeze pharma lemon dry - German health speaker
“We have to ask how much is it worth in the end? We also have to be careful that we don’t treat the pharma sector like a lemon by continuing to squeeze it and then at some point realising: Damn! The lemon has been squeezed dry,” said Spahn.
Spahn has previously criticised the GKV’s negotiating tactics in drugs pricing talks, accusing the body of playing “poker” rather than seriously negotiating with pharmas, resulting in drugs being taken off the market. (APMHE 39858