You are here

Advancing the responsible use of medicines in Belgium

IMS Health

By Mark Lamotte, Karin Caekelbergh, Mafalda Ramos, IMS Health

Pharmaceutical innovation is an obvious and important contributor to the health of a society, but in times of economic constraint, payers often have difficulty taking full advantage of it. According to an IMS Health analysis, Belgium has thus far been able to maintain the levels of spending on innovative drugs that it enjoyed prior to the economic crisis that began in 2008. The analysis covered spending per capita over the periods 2005 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2014.

Indeed, over the past five years, Belgium has maintained its position as one of the four EU countries spending the most on innovative drugs per capita. Yet, ensuring that Belgium continues to be able to offer innovation to its people will require the efforts of all stakeholders.

Within the current economic climate, promoting responsible use of medicines should be a key priority for health policymakers. In this context, IMS Health calculated the potential for savings that could be realized from how drugs are used—savings that could then be reinvested in covering innovative drugs. A clear and simple methodology was used to analyze the potential for cost savings in four areas:

  • Low adherence to statins therapy
  • Inappropriate and over-prescribing of antidepressants
  • Over-prescribing of antibiotics
  • Hospitalizations due to medication errors

Overall, the study revealed that potential savings could reach an estimated 1.5-1.6% of Belgium’s total annual healthcare spending. In absolute values, this represents over €400 million annually that could be invested in funding innovative treatments, broadening access restrictions to specific drugs, implementing prevention programs and modernizing hospital infrastructure, etc.

According to Carlo Ciapparelli, General Manager at IMS Health for Northern Europe: “Under the current economic climate, promoting responsible use of medicines should be a key priority for health policymakers. Pharmaceutical innovation is an obvious and important contributor to the health of a society, but in times of economic constraint, payers often have difficulty taking full advantage of it. We believe it is important to identify interventions aiming at unlocking financial means to more strenuously fund innovation in healthcare”.

Carlo Ciapparelli concludes by saying: “We have picked up these four areas, but this report is not meant to be exhaustive. It should serve to open a dialogue on the subject and to spur other stakeholders to join the debate”.

Download the full report