The Medicines Prices Act (Wet op de geneesmiddelenprijzen) (Wgp) authorizes the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to set maximum prices for medicines on the Dutch market. The Wgp aims to safeguard the accessibility and sustainability of Dutch healthcare by bringing the price level of medicines more closely to the European average price level of medicines. According to the Wgp, the price for medicines paid by the pharmacist may not exceed the maximum price. The maximum price is determined by an arithmetic average of the prices for similar medicines in other countries (the so-called “reference countries”). For the Netherlands, the reference countries are Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

According to the Dutch Minister for Medical Care (Minister), the price of medicines in Germany (in particular the patented medicines) goes far beyond the European and Dutch average price level of medicines. Consequently, the prices of medicines in the Netherlands are higher than the European average price level of medicines. In order to lower the price level of medicines, the Minister proposed to replace Germany with Norway as a reference country in the Wgp.

On December 3, 2019, the Dutch Senate adopted a legislative proposal providing for the amendment of the Wgp. This amendment replaces Germany with Norway as one of the reference countries. As of April 1, 2020, the maximum prices of medicines in the Netherlands are set by comparing prices of Belgium, France, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The amendment of the Wgp may have a negative impact on the purchasing discounts of medicines and the availability of medicines on the Dutch healthcare market. Although the Minister cannot eliminate such risks, he expects the amendment of the Wgp to result in a good balance between the sustainability and the availability of the medicines.