Generic medicines contain the same active substance and have the same therapeutic effect as branded medicines. Their price is at least between 54% and 65% lower than the original price of the branded medicine. Hence, generic medicines contribute to a better access to care.
All over the world, generic medicines are the perfect medium to make medicines widely available to patients. They break through the patent on the branded medicine and create competition on the pharmaceutical market, causing prices to drop. Because of this, generic medicines marketed in Belgium are at least between 54% and 65% cheaper than the initial price of the corresponding branded medicines. In practice, this price difference can sometimes be as much as 80% or more. On top of that, the average price of generic medicines falls each year. From 2010 to 2020, this price decrease has amounted to 34% in total. In this way, both the patient and the healthcare insurance can make significant savings on their medicine expenditure. For INAMI/RIZIV (NIHDI) the savings amounted to EUR 1.9 billion in 2020. These resources can a.o. be used to make more new and often very expensive therapies accessible to patients and/or to treat patients who, before the entry of the generic version, did not receive access to existing medicines.
But there is more. Due to the competition of generic medicines, manufacturers of branded medicines are constantly encouraged to improve existing products or introduce new molecules to the market. If this incentive was lacking, the reward for innovation would be much weaker.
There are also more and more pharmaceutical companies who, in one way or another, are present in both the innovative and generic segment. In this context, we often talk about hybrid companies.
In Belgium, there are currently approximately 300 molecules for which there is a generic version available on the market. Generic medicines can be used for more than 80% of treatments.
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