Rising Healthcare Costs Strain EU Budgets Even as New Therapies Flourish

Rising Healthcare Costs Strain EU Budgets Even as New Therapies Flourish
Cash-strapped governments across the 28-member European Union are struggling to control runaway healthcare expenditures — at exactly the same time as the promise of new but expensive therapies to treat rare diseases has never been greater. That’s the paradox faced by pharmaceutical companies as well as patient advocacy groups in Europe, where roughly 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health. It was also a major theme at the recent World Orphan Drug Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The November event attracted some 500 drug industry executives, researchers, patient advocates, and others, including Nathalie Moll, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). “What’s interesting is that very often, the cost of orphan drugs is not put into the context of the wider healthcare picture,” Moll told BioNews Services, publisher of this website. “It ranges between 3 percent and 5 percent of all pharmaceutical expenditures, which itself is only 15 percent of all healthcare expenditures in Europe — and it’ll remain like that at least through 2020.” EFPIA, headquartered in Brussels, is an umbrella group representing 33 national associations and 40 manufacturers. It speaks for an industry that employs 750,000 people across Europe and spends more than €35 billion ($40 billion) annually on research and development. Moll said that orphan drugs such as Biogen’s Spinraza (nusinersen) for spinal muscular atrophyare often criticized for being excessively expensive — yet generics have lately gotten far more ba
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