Generic medicines accounted for 62% of all medicines prescribed in Europe in 2016, according to latest data from QuintilesIMS – up from 47% in 2006. The latest figures were announced by Alan Sheppard, Principle, Thought Leadership at Quintiles IMS, during the annual conference of the European trade association Medicines for Europe in Lisbon, Portugal.
Mr. Sheppard told delegates: “We live in difficult times but with one constant: the need for healthcare. The global pharma market continues to grow and generics are taking an increasing share of the overall market. However, to have an effective generics market, there needs to be a coherent generics policy. Cutting medicine prices is not the solution to reduce costs; improving outcomes should be the objective.”
Meanwhile, a separate report just issued by QuintilesIMS shows that generic medicines now account for 89% of all prescriptions in the US market, but only 26% of the total cost. That difference translates into 2016 savings to US patients and taxpayers of no less than USD 253 billion. In the last decade, the US healthcare system has saved USD 1.67 trillion due to the availability of low-cost generics.
How to ensure sustainable healthcare and global access to affordable medicines was the topic of the opening session at the Lisbon conference, sponsored by Sandoz.
Alex Harris, CEO of International Health Partners, said that global access to healthcare was still being endangered by growing gaps between the richest and the poorest countries, increasing budget constraints, and the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He pointed out that, in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa, half the population still lacked access to medicine.
Meanwhile, Rabia Khan, a Health Policy Analyst at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), told delegates that up to 20% of healthcare spending in OECD countries could be considered “wasteful”. She highlighted the enormous potential for improving healthcare efficiencies worldwide, for instance through policies to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics and to promote pharmacy-level substitution of off-patent medicines.
Pierluigi Antonelli, Head of Western Europe, Sandoz, discussed the role that Sandoz, as a leading global player in generic and biosimilar medicines and a division of Novartis, can play in helping to address the global access issue.
In a presentation entitled “Making Access Happen: Our contribution to sustainable healthcare systems”, he outlined the scale of the global challenge and argued that the first responsibility of companies like Sandoz was to provide a broad range of therapeutic options to patients and healthcare systems.
However, he added: “There is still enormous potential to do more, particularly by going beyond our ‘daily business’ to target communities most in need. We focus on the medical needs of lower income countries, both in infectious diseases and – increasingly – by exploring new ways of combatting chronic diseases (NCDs). We also focus on promoting access to medical information and on helping to build medical capacity where it is needed.”