Germany moves to end drugmakers' price monopoly
Germany's government moved on Tuesday to break drugmakers' grip on prices with a bill aimed at saving the creaking health care system about two billion euros (2.4 billion dollars) a year.
Currently, drugmakers are able to name any price they wish, and for as long as a medicine is under patent, but now the firms will have to do more to prove that a drug offers benefits over what is already on the market.
The change will also force the firms to negotiate prices with Germany's myriad health insurers, which are on course to be about 11 billion euros in deficit next year.
The move is part of a planned root-and-branch reform of German health care by Chancellor Angela Merkel's eight-month-old coalition as it seeks to cut spending and achieve a balanced budget by 2016.
Earlier this month she unveiled more than 80 billion euros' worth of spending cuts, but much of her plans on where exactly money will be saved remain vague and she has ruled out raising taxes.
The bill is due to go before parliament later this summer and the government hopes it will take effect by the end of the year.
© 2010 AFP