Germany’s statutory health insurance funds’ (GKV) spending on drug reimbursement increased 4.2% last year, a faster rate of rise than had been expected and against growth of just 0.8% during the year before, according to new  figures.

The GKV funds’ reimbursement drug spending totalled 27.6 billion euros during 2013, according to the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA), which also notes that the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) and the National Association of Statutory Health insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband) had been predicting a rise of some 3.6%.

ABDA goes on to point out that the main driver of this higher-than-expected spending rise was the 2.9% increase in volume sales experienced during the year.

The ABDA findings have been reported by IHS Global Insight, which also quotes new figures produced by the German generics industry association Pro-Generika which are based on data from IMS Health. These estimate that spending by the GKV funds last year totalled 19.8 billion euros, expressed at ex-manufacturer prices and taking statutory manufacturer rebates into account.

Pro-Generika says that sales of patented drugs reimbursed by the GKV funds increased 9.8% in 2013, year-on-year, eaching a value of 12.2 billion euros, while sales of off-patent drugs reimbursed by the funds fell 4.3% to 7.6 billion euros.  And of this latter total, generic drugs accounted for 4.6 billion euros while off-patent originator products represented the remaining 3 billion euros, it says.

Commenting on the two new sets of reimbursement spending figures, IHS explains that the large difference between ABDA’s data and those of IMS is “highly likely” to be because, in the ABDA calculation, value-added tax (VAT) and the margins of both pharmacists and wholesalers are included within the calculation.

HIS’ analysts also point out the KBV and the GKV-Spizenverband had established a cap on growth for drug spending in 2013 of 3% and one of 6.6% for this year. Given that actual growth for 2013 was higher than had been predicted and “considering the coalition government’s openness to legislative changes to the AMNOG [Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products] system, there is a possibility that with such dynamic growth in spending on patented medicines, legislators may opt to impose new restrictions in order to rein in this spending growth,” they forecast.