A pharmaceutical industry group has spread distorted information by repeatedly citing inaccurate statistics and using them as the basis of their demands for increasing drug prices, the Ministry of Health and Welfare 보건복지부 said Friday.
The ministry gave the example of a report released last year by the Korea Research-based Pharmaceutical Industry Association글로벌의약산업협회(KRPIA) .
In the report titled “A plan for improving domestic drug pricing system to develop pharmaceutical industry and enhance patient accessibility,” KRPIA maintained the prices of new drugs covered by insurance in Korea fall less than half of the average levels of OECD countries, citing a 2013 study by Professor Lee Eui-kyung of Sungkyunkwan University.
According to the report, the prices of covered new drugs were 43 percent of OECD’s average prices, and 74 percent of 198 new drug products were equivalent to OECD’s lowest prices. The statistics were based on the analysis of 198 new drugs from about 30 countries, including OECD members, and their publicly announced prices.
The ministry noted that even Professor Lee who made the study acknowledged there could be differences between announced and actual prices, however, vowing to continue to supplement the inaccurate data.
“But the association has stressed the need for raising drug prices based on those statistics without making clear the limitation of the study, the ministry noted,” it said. “Actually, KRPIA has used the statistics in its reports in 2014 and 2016 as well as in various workshops without supplementing the data.”
The ministry quoted KRPIA as saying, “Professor Lee Eui-kyung carefully researched pricing structures in each country and readjusted them to compare Korea’s drug prices. And Korea’s drug prices were very low when compared to countries with similar economic levels, which reflected that the values of new drugs were underestimated in the evaluation to cover medical insurance.”
The ministry criticized KRPIA’s argument was groundless and making distorted assertions based on inaccurate statistics.
“Because foreign countries have adopted a dual-pricing system – which means pharmaceutical companies set prices and refund the differences from the real prices – only pharmaceutical firms can know the actual costs,” said Kwak Myung-sub, director of the Division of Pharmaceutical Benefits. “Governments don’t reveal their prices. The association seems to provide incorrect information.”
Noting that his ministry had pointed out the problems in the association’s allegations, the official said KRPIA had reshaped same data. “I hope the organization should be talking about objective facts,” he said.
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