Germany acts to crack drugmakers' price monopoly
Germany's parliament Thursday passed a law aimed at breaking drugmakers' grip on prices and saving around two billion euros (2.7 billion dollars) per year for its creaking health system.
The legislation passed by 314 votes in favour and 269 against.
Under the present system, firms can name any price they like for the 25-year period the drug is under patent but they must now do more to prove that a "new" drug offers benefits over what is already on the market.
The change will also force the pharmaceutical firms to negotiate prices with Germany's health insurers, which are on course to be about 11 billion euros in the red next year.
The move is part of a wider root-and-branch reform of the German healthcare system as Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to slash deficits in Europe's top economy.
© 2010 AFP