Innovative therapies that are currently introduced to the market are of a different order than many new drugs over the past few decades. Increasingly often, new medicines are complex but successful, or for a small number of critically ill people. The quality of life of these patients can be dramatically improved and sometimes they can even be cured outright. In and of itself, this is excellent news.
However, the disadvantage is that these medications are extremely expensive. The emergence of these medications threatens the affordability of care, and will detract from the care for other patients.
Also, timely access of patients to medicines is hampered due to the current pharmaceutical system, in which the position of national governments is under pressure.
This is partly caused by the variety in national policies on pricing, reimbursement and on the use of pharmaceuticals. At the same time, increasing pressure is put on the capabilities of individual authorities.
In order to change these developments cooperation is essential. Beneluxa is a first collaborative step towards more balance in the pharmaceutical market. Our goal is to ensure timely access and affordability of medicines for our patients.
The Beneluxa initiative aims for sustainable access to, and appropriate use of, medicines in the participating countries. We strive to increase patients’ access to high quality and affordable treatments.
In order to achieve this we:
- Anticipate on national health challenges effectively by having early insight in new pharmaceutical products and in new indications of existing products coming to the market (i.e. Horizon Scanning);
- Increase the efficiency of the assessment, pricing and reimbursement of medicines by exchanging expertise and by mutual recognition of Health Technology Assessments;
- Share policy expertise and best practices;
- Improve the payers’ position in the market:
- by improving their knowledge on products, usage and markets;
- by joint (price) negotiations for specific products;
- Improve transparency on pricing between the collaborating countries.
Areas of cooperation
Cooperation is needed to ensure patients’ access to expensive medicines. We cooperate in the fields of:
We work together to find out which innovative – often extremely expensive – medicines are about to become available in the near future.
Information sharing and policy exchange
We exchange information on our medicine policies. We believe that sharing information and collaboration between countries, over an extended period of time, will benefit policy initiatives on pricing and reimbursement of medicines.
Health Technology Assessment
We cooperate in Health Technology Assessments. By using expertise acquired in the European Network on Health Technology Assesment (EUnetHTA), we have a strong base for performing joint assessments.
Pricing and Reimbursement
By working closely together, it will be easier to negotiate medicine prices with the industry. Collaboration also allows us to demand more transparency on the cost build-up of pharmaceutical products. Also crucial for the improvement of medicine pricing is increased transparency on pricing between countries.
The current group of countries has initiated pilot projects in the above fields of collaboration.
History and participating countries
During the informal meeting of European Ministers for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs in Riga, Latvia, in April 2015, the health ministers of Belgium and the Netherlands announced their initiative to explore possible collaboration on pharmaceutical policy. This included price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for orphan medicinal products.
In September 2015, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg joined the Belgium-Netherlands project.
Austria joined the cooperation initiative in June 2016, and since then this project has been named ‘Beneluxa’.
In June 2018 also Ireland joined the Beneluxa initiative.