Amsterdam hospital gets €5m from lottery to make its own medicines

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Amsterdam’s UMC teaching hospital has been given a €5m donation by a lottery organisation to prepare more drugs in its own pharmacy and so produce them more cheaply and more quickly than the pharmaceuticals industry.

The plan to make more drugs is part of a wider campaign by the hospital to improve the availability of medicines for rare diseases which will focus on sharing information and carrying out research into why some drugs are so expensive.

‘We want to come up with concrete examples of the problems with expensive medicine in terms of price and availability,’ professor Carla Hollack, who is jointly leading the project, told the NRC.

‘That may lead to friction with the pharmaceuticals industry but that is not our aim,’ she said. ‘It is about identifying and solving mistakes in the system.’




Last year the hospital was embroiled in a major row with the drugs industry when it began making its own version of a licenced drug to treat a rare metabolic disorder.

The hospital began producing the drug, known as CDCA, because it was no longer covered by health insurance after manufacturer Leadiant ramped up the price by around 500%.

Concerns

Last week, foreign pharmaceuticals companies in the Netherlands said they are ‘concerned’ that the government is undermining the business climate by trying to force down the price of drugs.

The companies, including MSD, Gilead and Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen, are all members of Amcham, the American chamber of commerce in the Netherlands, which wrote to health minister Bruno Bruins calling for a rethink.

In January, Bruins reacted angrily to a decision by Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis to put up the price of a drug to treat a rare form of cancer five fold, describing it as ‘outrageous‘.

The Dutch healthcare institute Zorginstituut Nederland has also said insurers should stop paying for expensive drugs if pharmaceutical companies continue to refuse to say how they arrive at the price.


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