Drug companies are blackmailing us with expensive drugs: healthcare chief

Assorted pills

The Dutch healthcare institute Zorginstituut Nederland says insurers should stop paying for expensive drugs if pharmaceutical companies continue to refuse to say how they arrive at the price, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.

The institute, which assesses the efficacy of new drugs and advises the government on whether they should be included in the basic healthcare policy, says the drugs companies are effectively blackmailing officials by refusing to be transparent about their prices.

In particular, the ZN is angry about the drug Spinraza, which costs €250,000 per patient per year. It has recommended that the drug, used to treat spinal muscular atrophy, should not be covered by insurance unless the manufacturers chop 85% from the price.




ZN chairman Arnold Moerkamp told the FD he thinks officials should seriously consider not funding drugs, despite the impact on patients.

‘We are not only here for the patients who will use the new medicine but the 17 million people who have to pay the bill,’ he said. ‘If you decide to pay for one medicine, you won’t be able to pay for another’s treatment. You can only spend your budget once.’

Pharmaceutical companies say that the high development costs are the reason why new drugs can be so expensive.