Just days before the reports that R&D investment in Spanish pharma had fallen to below EUR1 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2011 for the first time since 2007, the country’s generic manufacturers association, AESEG, offered some unexpected support for the branded industry.
In comments to APM Health Europe described as “rare”, AESEG chief Ángel Luis Rodríguez de la Cuerda warned that the drastic Spanish drug spending cuts were “endangering innovation and excessively punishing the branded sector”.
In addition to news of the R&D investment drop, reported by Farmaindustria, IMS Health released figures showing that drug sales in Spain have dropped by 11% this year, adding in a gloomy forecast that things aren’t likely to improve before 2016.
Such a forecast can only be improved, said Rodríguez, if the Spanish government acknowledges the value of innovation.
Perhaps the AESEG chief can afford to be sporting in his comments, given that generic industry in Spain has enjoyed some growth in the face of the branded pharma squeeze. Its market value has increased from 5% in 2008 to 17.4% this year and, according to Rodríguez generics “still have a wide growth margin”. But he also believes that branded drugs and generics are no longer “not conflicting entities, but complementary ones”.
And, as Chiara Cochetti of IHS warns, while the Spanish government cuts have so far “managed to achieve a drastic decrease in pharmaceutical and healthcare expenditure”, the consistent decrease in prescription prices is likely to create long-term problems both for branded drug and some local generic manufacturers.
With the government preparing to reduce pharmaceutical expenditure by another EUR150 million next year — through a new system of centralized drug purchasing and by driving wholesaler prices down — it looks like things are reaching a point in Spain where even long-standing rivals are uniting against a common enemy.