FINAL CONCLUSIONS OF MARKET STUDY ON REIMBURSABLE PHARMACEUTICALS

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On December 5, 2016 the Competition Council confirmed the final conclusions of the market study on reimbursable pharmaceuticals (hereinafter  –  Study) that revealed competition problems in the market, to which possible solutions were proposed.

The findings of the Study show that current legal regulation in the market of reimbursable pharmaceuticals is inefficient since it restricts the entry of analogous but cheaper pharmaceuticals. Besides, legal regulation creates favorable conditions for the manufacturers who offer more expensive pharmaceuticals compared to their competitors, which results in weak competition in the market.

Another problem is that the prices of pharmaceuticals reimbursed by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund (so called “base” prices) are calculated on the basis of publicly declared but not factual prices, which enables manufacturers to manipulate the system of reimbursable pharmaceuticals and maintain higher declared prices.

Besides, the Competition Council found that reference to the price average of several countries applied by the majority of EU members states is not appropriate to Lithuania while doing the calculation of reimbursement price, since it does not encourage manufacturers to reduce the declared prices of pharmaceuticals.

In addition, current legal regulation creates favorable conditions for the exchange of commercially sensitive information among the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, which may negatively affect competition and the prices of reimbursable pharmaceuticals.

There are no doubts that consumers could save their own money, as well as the budget of the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund, only if they received objective information about pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, the Competition Council found that consumers lack information about analogous, equally efficient but cheaper pharmaceuticals.

The findings of the Study revealed that state regulation of pharmaceuticals is not based on the economic analysis of the impact on the market, although it should be.

According to the Competition Council, it is likely that inappropriate regulation of reimbursable pharmaceuticals results in higher prices of pharmaceuticals, lack of variety and inefficient use of the budget of the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.

The Competition Council believes that it is necessary for state institutions responsible for health policy:

  • to encourage the entry of pharmaceuticals which are of analogous quality, equally efficient but cheaper;
  • to apply factual and not publicly declared prices for the prices of reimbursable pharmaceuticals;
  • to find a more efficient way of calculating the reimbursement price than applying reference to other states;
  • to eliminate the ability of market players to obtain information about the prices of their competitors;
  • to ensure that consumers are better informed about the cheapest analogous-quality pharmaceuticals;
  • to improve the implementation control of the requirements set for the trade of reimbursed pharmaceuticals in order to prevent manufacturers from having impermissible influence on doctors and pharmacists concerning their suggestions for a particular pharmaceutical.

On May 19, 2015 the Competition Council initiated the Study by taking into account the high importance of the market of pharmaceuticals for consumers, as well as aiming to find out if current legal regulation creates favorable conditions for effective competition in the reimbursable pharmaceuticals market. Effective competition in the market contributes to a bigger variety of pharmaceuticals and helps to save money for both consumers and the state.