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Netherlands – Reduction of reimbursement of medicines

The Dutch Minister of Care announced in his letter of 27 January 2020 to the House of Representatives that the Dutch medicine reimbursement system will be modernised.

The current reimbursement limits are still based on the market situation in 1998. According to the minister, nowadays there would be cheaper alternatives for many reimbursed medicines. Therefore, reimbursements that patients receive from insurance companies for medicines will be reduced. The aim of this measure is to save EUR140 million a year in health costs.

As a result, patients will be faced with the choice to pay extra money for the same medicine, or to opt for a cheaper alternative to their medicine. According to the minister, manufacturers are likely to lower their prices below the reimbursement limit as a result, because otherwise they will lose patients as their customers. Only in "extreme cases", where manufacturers keep the price of their products at the same level and therefore do not adapt to the new reimbursement limits, would patients have to pay that extra sum of money for their medicines, or need to opt for a cheaper alternative. Patients who are unable to switch, for example because of side effects, do not have to pay extra.

Health insurers believe that manufacturers will not lower their prices, now that each patient who pays a personal contribution for medication has to pay a maximum of EUR250 per year (any excess of this amount is therefore not at the patient's expense), and the patient could even ask the manufacturer to reimburse the EUR250.

A prior version of this post was originally published by the same author in Practical Law – Life Sciences, March 2020 Issue (Thomson Reuters).

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