Pharmaceuticals present code of conduct; Inadequate, Minister says

Forty companies in the pharmaceutical industry presented their joint code of conduct to Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care on Friday. This code is meant to be their "moral compass". The Minister immediately called the code inadequate, pointing out that it says nothing about medicine prices - a major point of concern for him, NOS reports.

According to Bruins, the pharmaceutical industry must explain the level of their prices and good medicines must be offered at a reasonable price. He asked the authors of the code to come up with an "improved version", which includes both these topics. 

Arnoud Overkamp, chairman of the Innovative Medicines Association and director of pharmaceutical company Takeda, told NOS that the code of conduct says nothing about prices because companies themselves are responsible for drawing up and justifying their prices. He also said that it is difficult to make agreements about prices due to competition law. According to him, there are competition laws that prohibit companies from forming a cartel by, for example, making agreements about prices.

Patent law expert Elle 't Hoen called this argument "nonsense", speaking to the Volkskrant. According to her, competition law does not stand in the way of agreeing on reasonable prices.

The pharmaceuticals' code of conduct contains articles and include that companies will act in the best interest of the patient, that they will report on what drug research costs, and that they will help resolve drug shortages. "A variety of topics that we think is important," Overkamp said to NOS. He thinks a future code could include agreements about drug prices. "This is a starting point, the code has a growth model. Cologne and Aachen were not built in a day either. I am sure we will have a different code in ten years."

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