Bank on this: EURIPID's pharmaceutical data makes healthcare planning easier and improves access to medicines
Helga Festøy, Head of Unit, Safe Use, at the Norwegian Medicines Agency talks about a new development in the EURIPID collaboration, which helps make information about pharmaceuticals available to national authorities and makes it easier for them to control costs.
What is the EURIPID Collaboration?
The EURIPID Collaboration is a voluntary non-profit undertaking of mainly European authorities in charge of pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals. It started in 2010 with the aim of increasing the transparency of pricing by mutually sharing information and strengthening the cooperation between European pricing and reimbursement authorities to improve European patients' access to pharmaceuticals.
What's new about it now and what are the plans for this year?
The 2010 initial project led to the development of a website and a database with up-to-date price information of all reimbursable pharmaceuticals from the participants. Then, under the Health programme the EURIPID-database will be developed further, for instance with information on the sales volumes of pharmaceuticals. The project also aims at strengthening the cooperation among the stakeholders of the pharmaceutical sector in order to increase transparency and improve patients’ access to medicines.
We also plan to further disseminate the results of previous projects in national settings. A Guidance Document on external price referencing will be disseminated. We will continue the collaboration and technical assistance for EURIPID users and to establish a new dialogue platform with the key stakeholders.
Why is something like this needed?
Any developed country with a public health insurance or social security system in place needs to control pricing so that medicines become affordable and accessible to the public. If you live in a country with third party payment, the medicines are reimbursed by social security. So it isn’t the patients and the doctors paying, it's the tax payers. It’s of course easier to do price comparisons if you have this type of data, and by using the EURIPID data, countries can better prepare for accessibility/social security coverage, health planning and budget needs. Researchers too can see if there are gaps in knowledge and look for solutions.
Who participates in EURIPID?
Experts of national competent authorities and the European Commission have access to the database. To have access to the EURIPID database, countries have to be willing to share their own data. Researchers may also have access to data on an ad hoc basis. Norway has been supportive of EURIPID since the beginning and we're joined by the competent authorities of 25 other countries. I think it’s in everybody’s interest that pharmaceutical prices are fair and that decisions are made in a transparent manner, and of course, people need to know that they can get the medicines they need in their local pharmacies and be reimbursed for them.
At the Norwegian Medicines Agency, we re-evaluate the prices of pharmaceuticals of about 70% of the market on an annual basis. Because we have our own currency, which may fluctuate greatly against the Euro, the re-evaluation helps keep the prices on an appropriate level – either by going up or down. The data available through EURIPID makes this re-evaluation easier for sure, but it is also going to help patients to be able to afford and to obtain the medicines they need.
Activities at EU level
European Commission – Health and Food Safety
Under the new EU Health Programme funding, the EURIPID Collaboration will establish a new dialogue platform with the key stakeholders and other interested parties, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, WHO and EU Member States.
Published on 27 February, the Communication specifically notes that health system reforms are targeting greater effectiveness, accessibility and resilience. Many Member States are pursuing efforts to refocus health systems towards preventive care.
The report, adopted this January, confirms that the pharmaceutical sector requires close competition law scrutiny and provides a range of examples of how enforcing competition law specifically helps to safeguard EU patients’ access to affordable and innovative medicines.
The EURIPID Collaboration published their Technical Guidance Document on External Reference Pricing (ERP) to help national authorities avoid/mitigate any potential negative impacts of ERP on patients' access to medicines.
The report concludes that non-demographic factors will be one of the key driving forces of health expenditure, if past trends persist and states that innovations in medical technology are generally believed to be the primary driver of health care spending.
The conference titled “Medicines access challenge – The value of pricing and reimbursement policies” will be held in Vienna and is being organised by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Pricing and Reimbursement Policies.
Health Programme Projects
With the financial support of the EU Health Programme, the OECD has undertaken several projects to further identify ways to make pharmaceutical expenditure more efficient and to better prepare for changes in the market.
Other interesting links
The EU has created a common procedural framework through the adoption of the Transparency Directive to ensure that national pricing and reimbursement decisions are made in a transparent manner and do not disrupt the operation of the Internal Market.
This Opinion was produced by the independent Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health.