Hospital chief accuses big pharma of "blackmail"

"The drug price is mainly influenced by what the producer thinks he can ask for it. This means that you can ask exorbitant amounts for a medicine for a nasty disease. A form of blackmail."

This Marcel Levi, chairman of the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, wrote in an opinion piece in which he criticizes the way the pharmaceutical industry works.

"It is striking that almost no one wonders why expensive drugs are actually so expensive. This is almost never because it is so expensive to produce, they are usually not too bad." he writes. "Even if we take the production, development and marketing costs into consideration, the price has not yet been declared.

In neighboring countries the price is considerably lower, Levi emphasizes. The government must therefore negotiate better, encourage the development of replica medicines and put pressure on the European Medicines Agency EMEA to steer drugs through the registration process more quickly.

Levi argues that the government should not regard the drug trade as a free market but as a general facility where the price should be regulated.