Friday 07 October 2022

Doctors, patients protest at plans to cap medicine prices: FD

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Doctors, pharmacists and patients organisations are angry about government plans to cut spending on medicine, which they say hit patients rather than force down prices, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday.

A meeting at the health ministry earlier this month to discuss the plans ended in ‘pandemonium’, sources told the paper.

‘Everyone was angry and upset,’ Wim de Haart of the pharmaceutical sector organisation VIG said. ‘Everyone in healthcare is against it,’ Diandra Veldman from patients organisation Patiëntenfederatie Nederland is quoted as saying.

The government wants to cut spending on medicine by €140 million a year as part of a reorganisation of the pharmaceutical distribution system (GVS), which costs around €5 billion a year.

Read a government explanation of the plans in English

Doctors and pharmacists fear patients will have to pay towards some drugs from January next year, or will have to move to cheaper, less suitable medicines.

Health minister Ernst Kuipers expects that bringing in the price ceiling will force manufacturers to lower their prices. Patients will have to pay up to €250 towards some drugs – such as those to treat diabetes or Parkinsons – if they do not shift to a cheaper product.

Patients organisations say people with such chronic conditions are often those with the lowest incomes and they will be hardest it.

‘Patients will face an impossible choice, to pay extra or opt for a cheaper, inferior medicine,’ Ties Obers of the diabetes patients’ association said. ‘This is why we are so against the plan.’

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