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Hungarian health bill changes may increase burden on drugmakers

Hungarian lawmakers last night approved an amendment to a healthcare bill that may force drugmakers to pay more to the state-monopoly medical insurer next year than planned in earlier legislation, Bloomberg reported.

Under the proposal, companies would be forced to return as much as 19% of the state subsidies they get for their medicines. The original version called for a rebate of either 14% or 16%. Egis Nyrt, Hungary's second biggest drugmaker, will probably end up paying more to the government because of the change, CFO László Marosffy said today. He said 54% of Egis's products are priced above Ft 2,000, the level when the 19% reimbursement would kick in.
Lawmakers will amend the bill again “to express more justice,” said Mihály Kökény, a former health minister who now heads Parliament's Health Committee. The bill is set for a final vote on Nov. 20. “The fees really should be paid by those actors, and on those drugs, that have a very quick increase in trade, as well as in social insurance payments,” Kökény said in a telephone interview today. “We do think that the cheaper drugs should get some kind of preference.”
Under the current amendment, companies will pay 11% on reimbursements for drugs with producer prices of Ft 1,000 or less, 17% on drugs that cost Ft 2,000 or less and 19% on drugs priced higher than Ft 2,000.
Egis and Richter Gedeon Nyrt, eastern Europe's biggest drugmaker, both issued profit warnings after Health Minister Lajos Molnár introduced his “drug thrift” bill last month. The law is designed to rein in state spending on medicines, which ballooned to Ft 348.9 billion last year from Ft 179.5 billion in 2001, according to data from Hungary's National Health Fund Administration (OEP).