SiRM evaluated the guidelines for the joint purchasing of prescription drugs on behalf of ACM. We concluded that clarifying the competition rules has helped but is not a complete remedy for lower prices, although tightening the guidelines can strengthen their effect. As such, the ACM has committed to clarifying the guidelines according to our evaluation.
In June 2016, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) issued guidelines for the joint purchasing of prescription drugs. ACM’s guidelines aim to help hospitals make better use of the possibilities for joint purchasing to facilitate a stronger bargaining position in negotiations with drug manufacturers, providing clarity about what can and cannot be jointly done. ACM expects more joint purchasing to support negotiation of lower drug prices and better conditions, benefiting both patients and Dutch society.
As ACM’s guidelines included an evaluation after three years, ACM asked SiRM to undertake this assessment and investigate the guidelines’ effect and potential improvement or expansion possibilities.
In response, we undertook comprehensive desk research and approximately 25 interviews with hospital pharmacists, health insurers, purchasers of medical devices and industry organisations involved in joint drug and medical-device purchasing.
We concluded that clarifying the competition rules has helped but is not a complete remedy. However, tightening up the guidelines can strengthen their effect and expanding their scope can reduce reluctance to cooperate. In addition to drugs, guidelines could also discuss the potential for the joint purchasing of medical devices, potentially accelerating collaboration in this field’s procurement.
Based upon our evaluation, ACM has announced that it will clarify the guidelines for prescription drugs and the joint purchasing of medical devices.