In the EU, national authorities are free to set the prices of medicinal products and to designate the treatments they wish to reimburse under their social security systems. At the same time, pricing and reimbursement systems are closely linked to the realisation of European policy objectives such as the internal market, pharmaceutical competitiveness, sustainable research and development, and the protection of human health. The variety of healthcare and social security systems in the EU has an impact on the pharmaceutical industry, wholesalers, pharmacists, doctors, health insurers, and patients.
The EU has created a common procedural framework through the adoption of the so-called Transparency Directive (Council Directive 89/105/EEC) to ensure that national pricing and reimbursement decisions are made in a transparent manner and do not disrupt the operation of the Internal Market.
The European Commission launched a number of initiatives in the pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals. These include a ‘High Level Group on Innovation and Provision of Medicines’ and a ‘Pharmaceutical Forum’. The Forum was set up to find solutions to public health issues regarding pharmaceuticals, while also ensuring competitiveness and the sustainability of national healthcare systems.
The Pharmaceutical Pricing and Reimbursement systems established by EU countries are very complex. Each country uses different schemes and policies, adapted to its own economic and health needs. These national systems are regularly reviewed or adapted in order to take account of political priorities, market evolutions, and patients' needs.
A selection of information on pricing and reimbursement systems, pharmaceutical policies, and cost-containment measures in EU countries (and beyond) is provided below.