Germany

Pharmaceutical Commission Finding: Most “Brand New” Drugs Are New In Name Only

Just because something’s new doesn’t mean it’s better -- or even different. According to the German Medical Association, most “new” drugs are little more than repackaged – and re-priced – versions of their predcessors.

Of the 2,000 drugs on the German market today, no more than 500 are necessary
Of the 2,000 drugs on the German market today, no more than 500 are necessary

*NEWSBITES

BERLIN - There are 20,000 prescription medicines in Germany, but doctors say only 500 of them are needed to ensure good care.

According to the German Medical Association's Drug Commission, only 10% to 30% of new medication is better than their predecessors. And of the 2,000 active substances in prescription drugs presently on the German market, the Commission argues, only 300 to 500 are really necessary for optimum care.

"We could do without the rest of the medication in the future without compromising the quality of patient care," said the head of the commission, Dr. Wolf-Dieter Ludwig.

Tests are presently underway, and by the end of the year a joint federal commission of doctors, health insurers and hospitals will evaluate the usefulness of new medication. The fallout from their conclusions will mark a turning point in the German pharmaceuticals market – any new generation drug that does not offer additional benefits cannot cost more than its predecessor.

The pharma sector is in an uproar. For years the industry has been able to charge what it wants for new approved medication. Birgit Fischer, director of VFA, an association of research-based pharmaceutical companies, says the downside of the new approach is that German patients may not be able to get drugs that are available in other European countries. Fischer also questions how cost decisions can be made responsibly when equivalency issues are still a subject of controversy.

Rainer Hess, who heads Germany's Joint Federal Committee, along with Dr. Ludwig, said they expect the move to exert pressure on drug companies to stick to developing genuinely useful new medication. That's something the pharmaceutical firms are often loath to do because of the huge expense, which can easily run into the hundreds of millions of euros. It is less risky for companies to make changes to existing medication and then market the result as "new," charging top price for it.

Read the full story in German Basil Wegener

Photo - joanneQEscober (tacit requiem)

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Coronavirus

Texas In Germany? Saxony Mixes Anti-Vaxxers And Far-Right Politics

When it comes to vaccination rates, there are striking parallels between Germany and the United States. The states with the most opposition to vaccines differ politically from those with the highest vaccination rates. Now the consequences for booster shots are starting to become visible, especially in the United States.

A protest in Saxony last year against COVID-19 restrictions

Zentralbild/dpa via ZUMA
Daniel Friedrich Sturm

-Analysis-

WASHINGTON — Ok, so Saxony was singled out last week in a New York Times article as an example of the disastrous vaccination situation in parts of Europe. The article talks about the link between anti-vaxxers and the political success of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the eastern German state.

In a sense, Saxony is Germany's Texas. For instance, 59% of U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated, but in strictly Republican Texas, where Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the 2020 election, this figure stands at 54%.

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We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
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