Best-selling drugs cheaper in Europe

European prices of 170 best-selling drugs averaged 40% less than US prices in 2008, recent research has revealed.

Within Europe, it was found, prices varied substantially, from an average of 55% of US prices in Italy to 70% of US prices in Germany. European prices for biologics averaged 86% of US prices.

The research was conducted by Decision Resources, a leading research and advisory firm focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues.

The study also showed that many of the drugs that vary the greatest in price between the United States and other markets are older drugs such as Eli Lilly’s Prozac, Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien and Novartis’ Tegretol that have lost patent protection in some markets.

This could be because, unlike in Europe, where the prices of drugs are lowered following patent expiry, US companies usually maintain brand prices following patent expiration.

Neil Grubert, Director of Pricing and Reimbursement Research at Decision Resources, has said that US companies need to be aware of the extent of the price variations between countries.

He added: “The current economic downturn will focus increasing attention on the cost of prescription drugs, and many payers will look to compare the prices they pay with prices in other markets.”

Decision Resources has released a new report entitled 2009 Chartbook of International Pharmaceutical Prices, which examines overall price differentials among seven of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets (the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan) and reviews pricing hierarchies in each of these markets.