University of Bremen: Many New Drugs Offer No Improvements

Professor Gerd Glaeske and his team from SOCIUM – Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, compiled the Innovation Report 2021. The result: 99 out of 200 drugs, and thus almost half, do not represent an improvement for patients. The researchers from the University of Bremen classify only 26 active ingredients, or 13 percent, as genuine innovations.

New Drugs: Not Innovative, but Prescribed Nonetheless
Professor Gerd Glaeske believes that the study highlights the weaknesses in drug research. When looking at the overall results, he says, the innovative strength of the pharmaceutical industry must be rated as meager. “Too few drugs from which patients really benefit are coming onto the market,” criticizes the health researcher, “yet the drugs we rate as non-innovative are still being prescribed. What we can see is that the benefit of medication often remains undetermined or marginal, while prices rise exorbitantly.” An evaluation of TK data on drugs newly launched on the market in recent years shows: 62 percent of the prescribed daily doses are not innovative according to the assessment of the Bremen researchers, and only nine percent of the prescribed daily doses represent genuine therapeutic advances.

Price Increase of Over 1,000 Percent
Another figure from eight years of the Innovation Report, which evaluated new drugs from 2010 to 2017: The average package price of these drugs has increased by nearly 1,200 percent. “Patent-protected drugs are too expensive in this country by international standards,” Glaeske states. He adds that the German Pharmaceutical Market Reorganization Act (AMNOG), which came into force in 2011, is having an effect, but continues to hold weaknesses that policymakers urgently need to address. “It is a flaw in the system that companies are free to set costs in a completely non-transparent manner at market entry. Once an extremely high price has been established in this way, it sets the mark for subsequent drugs, as costs are determined on the basis of comparable therapies – a vicious circle,” Glaeske explains. The researcher also calls for so-called orphan drugs for the treatment of rare diseases to no longer be favored in such a way that their additional benefit is considered proven from the outset.

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