Curbing Drug Costs: Should Hungary Become A Role Model?

Ljubljana, Slovenia – Trying to control spending on prescription drugs is difficult because the many reasons for pharmaceutical expenditure growth are usually addressed only partially with national prescription drug policies.

With the introduction of the Pharma Economic Act (PEA) in January 2007, Hungarian authorities took an approach that not only focused on the price of prescription drugs, but also introduced strong mechanisms to control the volume of drugs dispensed by the pharmaceutical companies. The recent economic crisis is making »laboratory of cost-containment tools«  attractive for authorities not only among the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, but also among Western (e.g., EU-15) jurisdictions.

As with all austerity measures, there is always a risk that cost-containment acts may jeopardize innovation and could even lead to withdrawals of breakthrough branded drugs.

The study has shown that Hungarian authorities managed to control the costs of prescription drugs and there is no reason to believe that the cost-containment policies were excluding innovation.

Rok Hren, PhD, MSc IHP (HE), Professor, University of Ljubljana, says that, “Prior to the PEA, Hungarian authorities set up an excellent IT system for tracking the number of prescription drugs dispensed and associated public expenditure and co-payments; while most of jurisdictions in EU have in place electronic prescribing systems. The analysis provided to the public by the Hungarian authorities is exemplary in the CEE region and maybe even wider. Making data on prescription drug expenditures and associated co-payments publicly available is an item which should be definitely followed by the surrounding jurisdictions.” The full study, “Impact of the Pharma Economic Act on Diffusion of Innovation and Reduction of Costs in the Hungarian Prescription Drug Market (2007-2010),” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues.

Value in Health Regional Issues  (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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