New drugs mostly without added value

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New drugs are often no longer useful

The number of approved drugs in Germany is constantly increasing. A recently published report by the Techniker Krankenkasse comes to the conclusion that most of these medicines do not have a clear additional benefit.

New medicines more expensive than previous ones The days when new medicines on the market were revolutionary for the treatment of sick people are long gone. New preparations such as insulin, the first antibiotics or medication for chemotherapy against cancer were also so valuable because there were usually no comparable means available until they were developed. However, the pharmaceutical industry currently seems to be a long way from medical quantum leaps. Of the 23 new products that came onto the market in 2010 and 2011, only one had a clear additional benefit compared to conventional agents. This is the result of the new innovation report from the Techniker Krankenkasse. Eight drugs had a little more benefit and the remaining 14 drugs had no extra effect. The health economist and head of the study, Gerd Glaeske, said: "We have an innovation crisis." Only the heart remedy Brilique has therefore shown a clear additional benefit, since it can reduce the risk of heart attack. What is annoying is that the new funds are expensive for contributors and health insurers, even though many of them have proven to be a flop. According to TK, three out of four preparations were more expensive than previous medication. A pharmaceutical report by Barmer also found that around 40 percent of new funds "do not offer any additional benefit to the patient" and only cause higher expenses. TK boss Jens Baas spoke of spending 145 million euros on the new drugs. He believes that "even without consequences for patients, 68 million euros can be saved by conventional medication.

Savings through the Drug Market Reorganization Act The results again demonstrate the benefits of the Drug Market Reorganization Act (AMNOG), which the black-yellow coalition passed over two years ago. Before this law, pharmaceutical companies could in principle demand what they wanted for new funds and the health insurers had to pay. Some of the medications mentioned in the TK report date from before AMNOG. Since the law came into force, pharmaceutical manufacturers have to demonstrate the added benefit of their new preparations before they can negotiate the reimbursement with the insurance companies. An example of an additional benefit would be an extended lifespan that can be achieved by the agent. Only through such added value can pharmaceutical companies expect additional profits. The first effects can already be seen through this cost brake. For example, insurers have been able to save 120 million euros so far, according to estimates by the health insurance association. The government hopes to save up to two billion euros annually with the AMNOG.

Criticism from the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacists The pharmaceutical industry is not satisfied with the AMNOG. The chief executive of the pharmaceutical manufacturers' association VFA, Birgit Fischer, criticizes that innovations are "simply punished". The pharmaceutical lobby is facing billions of dollars in losses and the anger of the industry is obvious. Criticism came shortly after the law came into force from the German Pharmacists' Association, DAV. At that time, its chairman Fritz Becker said: “Because the health insurance companies keep their contracts secret, the lack of transparency that we have been criticizing for a long time now turns into chaos in the long term. Patients and pharmacies once again have to pay off this bureaucratic madness. ”(Sb)

Photo credit: Andrea Damm /

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