Growth in Netherlands pharma market held back by generics policies

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The pharmaceutical market in The Netherlands will rise slowly from approximately US$6.7 billion in 2014 to US$7.2 billion by 2020. Growth is being restricted by the government’s focus on generics as a cost-containment tool, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

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According to the report, the introduction of preference policies by health insurers has played a significant role in the increasing share of prescriptions dispensed as generics.

The Dutch ‘preference policy’ sets out how, if possible, there is a preference for prescribing a cheaper version of a medicine, provided it has the same efficacy as the brand-name medicine.

Generics substitution at the pharmacy level and prescribing drugs by their International Nonproprietary Name (INN) are permitted and indeed actively encouraged in The Netherlands.

A financial rule was introduced for pharmacists in 1988 and guidelines for pharmacists to substitute generics were first published in May 2004. The rule stated that if a pharmacist substituted a brand-name drug for a generic drug, one third of the price difference would be paid to the pharmacist. The rule has subsequently been changed many times, but in 2000 the interest in substitution increased, partly for financial reasons and partly because prescribing using the INN was introduced some years before [1].

Physicians, on the other hand, have adopted an electronic prescribing system through which the brand name of a drug automatically converts to the INN.

Due to preference policies, patients are only reimbursed for non-preferred drugs where there is shown to be a medical need, which must be justified by their physician.

Editor’s Comment
Readers interested to learn more about generics substitution in The Netherlands are invited to visit to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

Generics substitution in primary care: summary of the Dutch community pharmacies guidelines

Readers interested in contributing a research or perspective paper to GaBI Journal – an independent, peer reviewed academic journal platform – please send us your submission here.

Related article
The preference policy in The Netherlands

1.   Grandia L, Vulto AG. Generics substitution in primary care: summary of the Dutch community pharmacies guidelines. Generics and Biosimilars Initiative Journal (GaBI Journal). 2012;1(2):102-3. doi:10.5639/gabij.2012.0102.021

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Source: GlobalData

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