Some countries pay more for the drugs and some pay less. While the UK, Greece, Spain and Portugal pay the least, on average, for the drugs they use, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland pay the most. It means only a few countries get a fair deal on medicines.
Recently, the prices of cancer drugs have risen steeply causing major stress on many healthcare systems, including the NHS. The drugs had accounted for nearly a third of the EU’s 51 billion euro (£37bn) cancer healthcare spending in 2009.
And the researchers then compared the 2013 price of 31 cancer drugs in 18 high-income countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden and Portugal.
Prices in Greece and UK were low. But, prices of drugs in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden were frequently the highest – and for some drugs twice as high. But although the official list prices published in this report are freely available, any further discounts – which are often negotiated by organisations in different countries – remain confidential and as a result, some countries risked overpaying for drugs.
David Watson, director of pricing and reimbursement at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the UK was “getting a fair deal with regards to medicines pricing” and the NHS was “getting good value for money”.