Germany’s 2011 drug market reform legislation has reduced the prices of the 25 top-selling innovative new drugs launched since the law was introduced by an average of 23%, according to the AOK statutory health insurance funds.

The prices of these drugs, which have undergone benefits assessments under the law, are now an average of 4.6% lower in Germany than they are in France, adds the AOK’s Scientific Institute’s latest drug prescription report.

However, the prices of patented drugs brought to market before the law – the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG) - was introduced, and which have not therefore undergone benefits assessment, are still substantially higher in Germany than in other countries such as France, it adds.

The report also estimates that the savings made on reimbursement prices agreed through AMNOG’s processes will reach 298 million euros this year from 150 million euros in 2013, compared to the original forecast for 2 billion euros-worth of savings.  These levels have not been reached  because of the government’s decision to drop the programme of assessing the benefits of drugs launched before AMNOG.

In March of this year, the Bundestag (parliament) voted in favour of abandoning the retrospective benefits assessment programme, which had been called for by the Ministry of Health because of the massive administrative burden which it entailed. However, the Ministry also said that the price freeze on reimbursed drugs which was introduced in August 2013 and originally set to expire at end-2013 needed to continue to the end of 2017, in order to cover the savings lost by ending the programme; this extension was also approved by the Bundestag.

With the loss of the retrospective benefits assessment programme, Germany is failing to benefit from potential savings on patented drugs which currently stand at 4.1 billion euros in the UK and 4.5 billion euros in Sweden, the Institute report adds.

Commenting on the study, analysts at IHS point to the 9% year-on-year increase in Germany’s public drug spending reported in early September, after years of moderate rises, suggesting that this “dynamic growth” will focus the minds of leaders and advisers to the statutory health insurance funds. 

“The focus is on those medicines launched before AMNOG that are still patent-protected and can still incur high levels of spending for the funds before they lose their patent protection in the next few years,” they say.