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Parliamentary questions
24 March 2017
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE)

 Subject:  Rises in prices of existing medicines on the medicines market

Written questions to the Commission concerning rises in the prices of existing medicines whose production has been taken over by new pharmaceutical companies.

On 20 March 2017, the Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) devoted an item to the recent rises in the prices of existing medicines on the medicines market(1). Pharmacists in the Netherlands are warning about what they call ‘hijacked medicines’. Pharmaceutical companies take over production of existing medicines and then place them on the market at a far higher price. These are medicines which have been in existence for a long time, which are no longer under patent, but which are still in use. Examples include the laxative Norgalax, as well as Slow-K, which is a remedy for a lack of potassium. The price rises are worrying patients, because they have to pay the price difference. It is not prohibited to raise the prices of medicines. The pharmaceutical industry says that this is how the market works, while insurers only reimburse patients at the original price level. This means that patients have to foot the bill for the difference.

Is the Commission aware of such rises in prices of existing medicines on the medicines market?

Does the Commission consider this to constitute fair and honest functioning of the market?

Are such ‘hijacked medicines’ to be found all over Europe, and does the Commission see any way of combating these exorbitant price rises, together with the USA?

(1) https://www.npo.nl/nos-journaal/20-03-2017/POW_03375572 en http://nos.nl/artikel/2164169-apothekers-verontwaardigd-over-gekaapte-medicijnen.html

Original language of question: NL 
Last updated: 7 April 2017Legal notice