An amendment proposed in the federal parliament’s health committee this week could end up costing pharmaceuticals companies millions of euros, if not hundreds of millions.
The amendment was brought by Flemish socialists s.pa to a piece of legislation by federal health minister Maggie De Block (Open VLD) which covered the health care budget for 2020.
At present, the state institute for sickness and invalidity insurance Inami/Riziv set the annual limit for how much will be spent on reimbursing the cost of medication. If, as is usually the case, the actual figure is higher, pharmaceuticals companies have to make up 2.5% of the entire budget.
For 2018, the budget was €4.46 billion, which was overshot, and the companies had to pay back €111 million.
The amendment proposed by sp.a would get rid of the 2.5% limit and make the pharmaceuticals companies pay the entire overshoot. In the case of 2018, instead of paying €111 million, they would be faced with a bill for up to €392 million, a difference of €281 million.
The proposers described the amendment as “a safeguard for the budget of 2020” which would prevent the bill for medications climbing endlessly. The amendment was approved by French-speaking socialists PS, greens and the far-left PTB/PVDA alliance. If it passes in the session of the full parliament, it becomes law.
“You don’t mess with the foundations without knowing what the impact will be on the stability of your house,” warned De Block.
She has already cut the medication bill for patients by making prescriptions for a number of conditions free – asthma, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. Tat is already the case for chronic illnesses like diabetes.
She has also reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical industry to cut the cost of a number of medications, including biological medicines, which have been on the market for some time and thus have already earned back their investment.
“A drastic savings round, but the sector accepts its responsibility,” the industry federation said at the time. That and future agreements could be in jeopardy if the industry finds itself facing a new bill of millions or hundreds of millions.