Spending on drug reimbursement by Germany's statutory health insurance (GKV) funds increased 4.1% in the first half of 2013, IMS Health has reported.

Spending by the funds reached 15.2 billion euros during the period, while in volume terms, the market increased 2.8% year-on-year. The figures do not include the supply of vaccines, nor the mandatory manufacturers' discounts or pharmacists' rebates for GKV-supplied drugs - these had already been deducted and if they had been included, the spending rise would have reached double digitss, comment analysts at IHS Global Insight.

The increase in the GKV market’s value is particularly notable given that spending on drug reimbursement by the statutory funds rose just 1.5% for the whole of 2012 and declined in 2011, they add.

IMS Health sees three main factors behind the latest growth in the market.

First is an increase in spending on innovative medicines used in the treatment of serious diseases, particularly cancer drugs, immunosuppressants and inflammatory rheumatic disease treatments. The funds’ spending on reimbursed antineoplastic drugs rose 16% year-on-year in first-half 2013, while by volume the increase during the period was almost 10%.

Also, funds' spending on reimbursed immunosuppressants increased 17% by value and 3% by value during the period, while for inflammatory rheumatic diseases, the increase in spending for biotech medicines was 15% by value and 11% in terms of volume.

Second, the continuing shift to supplying medicines through the outpatient sector rather than through inpatient supply was also a major contributor to higher spending levels, it reports. Reimbursement of antineoplastic drugs through outpatient clinics during the six months was 17% higher by value and up 5% in terms of volume, year on year, while for immunosuppressive drugs supplied in the outpatient sector the increase was 42% by value, with volume increasing by a similar rate.

The third contributor to first-half growth was the longer-than-average cold and flu season, which resulted in sales of drugs to treat these conditions, and of antibiotics, rising by around 90 million euros, or 30%.

“The continued resurgence of the GKV market is encouraging for the innovative pharmaceutical industry, which is the main beneficiary of the expenditure growth, but it will be likely to arouse a certain amount of unease for the GKV funds themselves, as well as the German Ministry of Health, considering the progress that had been made to pharmaceutical cost-containment in recent years,” comments IHS Global Insight.