pharmaceutical companies want tax relief

A few days before the presentation, Monday, September 26, of the Social Security financing bill, the objective of which is to determine the government's budgetary orientations in terms of health expenditure for 2023, unrest is spreading to industrialists in the medication. Among the subjects of tension: the safeguard clause, a tax specific to the pharmaceutical sector, the amount of which exploded in 2021. Worried, the laboratories have been calling for several months to review the terms, but disagree on the corrections to be made. .

Created in 1999, this tax contribution, which has already undergone four overhauls since 2015, aims to ensure compliance with the national health insurance expenditure target. To do this, each year it sets for all pharmaceutical manufacturers a threshold amount of turnover on sales of reimbursable drugs, established according to market growth forecasts. If this red line is exceeded, the laboratories are then collectively deducted – in proportion to their turnover – from part of their earnings.

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A mechanism that boosts sellers of generic drugs and mature products. The latter deplore, among other things, having to pay the bill in the same proportions as the original drug laboratories, even though they already allow the State to save money by marketing copies of drugs cheaper than the originals.

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“We save the community 2.5 billion to 3 billion euros a year. Our ten largest generic laboratories have a profitability of only 2%, which is half that of our European neighbours. We should preserve this sector instead of hitting us with a carbon tax, while we ride electric bikes”underlines Stéphane Joly, president of Gemme, the professional organization of generic drug manufacturers.

“Excess amount”

Generic specialists are calling for a revision of the terms of this tax, the cost of which should not, according to them, be calculated solely on the turnover of the laboratories, but also on their real contribution to the growth of the market.

In their sights, the laboratories of original drugs, whose innovative products, in particular cancer drugs and treatments for rare diseases, very expensive (sometimes several thousand euros), are derailing the government's drug spending targets. “The problem is not really the way in which the safeguard clause is distributed, but the excessive amount of this clause and its increasingly worrying evolution”defends Philippe Lamoureux, general manager of LEEM, the professional organization of pharmaceutical companies.

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