PHARMA: Price controls and foreign imports–European style

Although drug prices are generally set by the government in Europe, there is significant price variation between different countries.  Savvy European entrepreneurs have therefore gone to wholesalers in the cheapers countries (like Greece) and imported drugs to be resold to pharmacists. As you might expect the drug companies are not happy about this importing of cheaper drugs (sound familiar to my North American readers?) and have successfully gone to court to enable themselves to limit their sales to wholesalers in any country to enough for that country only. Now the EU is calling on national licensing associations to make it easier for these traders that exploit price differences to buy and sell in new markets.  To American pharmas and patients dismayed (for different reasons) at the overall lower prices outside the US, this might all seem like a storm in a teacup, but it does go to show that these days maintaining high prices for drugs is not easy.

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