News, 5 April 2012
The aim of substitution of medicines is to enable price competition between pharmaceutical companies and hence produce savings to both customers using medicines and to the society. However, according to the FCA's investigations the system does not currently support full-scale price competition.
The problem are the parallel imported products, which, due to the procedures of pharmacies, have not been able to participate in the price competition in the manner prescribed by the Medicines Act. The parallel imported medicines are re-packaged and patented original products, i.e. their composition is wholly identical to the original medicines.
The FCA's investigations showed that the pharmacies do not always offer the most inexpensive interchangeable medicine. The FCA finds that the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea should create a system monitoring the pharmacies' activities in real time to enable the supervision of the pharmacies' orders and deliveries. According to the FCA's sources, the information needed for the monitoring is easily obtainable, and other EU countries already exploit similar systems
The inclusion in their entirety of the parallel imported drugs into the reference price system should also be reconsidered. At the moment, parallel imported drugs are only included in the system if the reference price group already includes a so-called generic drug, i.e. a generic version of the original drug manufactured after the patent of the original has expired.
The change would mean that the original drug and the parallel imported alternative could from a pair, in which a compensation would only be paid from the reference price of the medicinal preparation, and the price difference would be paid by the customer. This would spur the consumers to choose the cheapest medicine.
The FCA initiative is connected to the complaint of the parallel importers active in Finland to the FCA on the adherence to the Medicines Act.
Senior Research Officer Jan Nybondas
Research Officer Sari Valliluoto