Thursday

25th Aug 2016

UK big pharma loses EU court battle over cheaper drugs

UK pharmaceutical firms have been defeated in their attempt to put an end to British government incentives to doctors to supply patients with cheaper but equivalent medicines.

The European Court of Justice rejected a complaint by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) that such National Health Service (NHS) schemes were not an illegal inducement under EU law.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • UK health authorities are not seeking commercial advantage by the incentive scheme (Photo: Flickr)

In order to reduce public expenditure, the public health authorities in England and Wales introduced schemes providing doctors with financial incentives to prescribe cheap generic drugs rather than their more expensive patented counterparts.

A 2001 European directive relating to medicinal products prohibits "pecuniary advantages or benefits in kind" from being offered to doctors or pharmacists.

The bill aimed to prevent drug firms from offering incentives such as holidays, golf club memberships or other bonuses for prescribing their product, but in an attempted reversal of the legislation's original intention, the companies argued that rewards to medical practices acted in the same way.

But the court found that the directive was concerned primarily with the promotional activities carried out by the pharmaceutical industry and sought to prevent promotional practices that could push doctors to act more in line with their wallet than a patient's interest.

"By contrast, that prohibition does not apply to national public health authorities which ... do not pursue any profit-making or commercial aim," the court said in its ruling.

"Therefore, the financial incentive scheme examined, which forms part of such a policy, cannot be regarded as seeking the promotion of commercial promotion of medicinal products."

"No danger to public health can be established," the court concluded.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  2. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  3. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  4. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  5. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  6. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  7. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  8. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  9. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  10. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  11. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?

Latest News

  1. Italy earthquake is test for Renzi
  2. Let's fix EU copyright law, for innovation and creativity online
  3. French government tries to defuse burkini row
  4. EU to Turkey: Do you really want to join?
  5. US slams EU competition policies
  6. French diesel committee 'did not cover up for Renault'
  7. EU backs Greek ex-data chief over criminal charges
  8. EU must step up migrant relocation, say Italy and Greece