A country comparison of 15 national health systems in Europe provides important information on the provision of pharmaceuticals that is both financially sustainable and also fair to patients. Its aim is to help policy makers make decisions about pharmaceutical care at European level.

AD – 01/2017

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, a partnership hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, has published a review on “Pharmaceutical regulation in 15 European countries”. It is based on an analysis by the Berlin University of Technology, commissioned by the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband), which studied the mechanisms and regulatory measures of European pharmaceutical care in comparison with Germany.  

In the face of rising costs, policy makers in Europe increasingly face the challenge of ensuring that patients have access to effective medicines. The review investigated which regulatory measures can help overcome this challenge. It covers market authorisation, pricing, added value, generic substitution and actual price levels.  

The review came to the conclusion that the health systems of all 15 countries have mechanisms to contain pharmaceutical expenditure and ensure quality and financial viability. However, these mechanisms vary significantly in their configuration and rigour and show only limited effect on pharmaceutical prices. The authors concluded that there is no convergence of pharmaceutical prices in Europe. Overall, the review provides important information on how pharmaceutical care in the European health care systems can be further developed to ensure both patient access and economic sustainability of pharmaceutical care. As such, it makes an important contribution to the debate on pharmaceutical policy at European level.  

Due to the ongoing debate in Germany and the European Union over pharmaceutical regulation, the GKV-Spitzenverband has taken the initiative to publish this extended, up-to-date analysis in English.  


The publication (ISSN 1817-6127 Vol. 18 No. 5) can be downloaded for free at: