Thursday, August 4, 2016 - 10:41
Dutch doctors avoid expensive diabetes drugs
Over the past five years pharmaceutical companies lost out on about 335 million euros in turnover in the Netherlands because Dutch doctors avoid prescribing expensive diabetes medications, according to research by he institute for responsible medication use IVM, the Volkskrant reports. In the past years 20 new diabetes pills became available on the Dutch market. They are much more expensive than the existing drugs, and according to the Dutch association of general practitioners, add little or do exactly the same as the existing drugs.The association therefore put in the treatment guidelines that the old drugs be given preference in prescriptions. The pharmaceutical companies claim that the new drugs are suitable for diabetic patients who do not respond well to the existing medications. The new drugs react differently in the body and give fewer side effects. And the doctors' refusal to prescribe the new drugs means that a proportion of patients are not receiving optimal care. According to pharmaceutical Novo Nordisk, about 20 to 30 percent of diabetics benefit from these new drugs. In contrast with many other countries, diabetes patients in the Netherlands are often treated by general practitioners instead of specialists. These doctors want to first see evidence that the new medication is better enough to justify the price increase. The GP's also believe that the new medicines benefit only a small group of patients. The GP's position also led to conflict with medical specialist, who see patients referred to them because their treatment is not going well. They believe that a lot more patients benefit from the new diabetes drugs than the doctors claim and are happy to prescribe the new drugs. Medical specialists are now consulting with pharmaceuticals, health insurers and the government to find out how many and which patients can benefit from the new medications. Last year 68 thousand diabetics in the Netherlands used one of the new drugs, that is about 7 percent of all diabetes patients in the country, according to the Volkskrant. Their medication cost a total of 49 million euros, or two thirds of the entire budget for diabetes medication.