After four years of discussion, a long-term stability pact between the pharmaceutical sector and Belgian Federal Minister of Public Health, Laurette Onkelinx, has been agreed. The document consists of a “moral engagement” by which the Belgian State commits to creating a stable environment for the pharma sector, one of Belgium’s strongest industries.
More than 30,000 people are directly employed by pharmaceutical companies in Belgium, but this number has stagnated in 2012. Frontrunners like Janssen Pharmaceutica are worried about the shrinking market after the Belgian budget for pharmaceutical products was lowered by 2%.
While exports continue to grow – the share of pharmaceuticals of Belgian exports has quadrupled over the last 15 years – pharma-multinationals feel hampered by their Belgian revenues. They criticize the low prices on the Belgian market, which are directly related to the prices of their products on the world market, and the long reimbursement procedures. The harshest criticism, however, is reserved for the 7.73% of additional sales taxes which companies pay for every euro of revenue they produce in Belgium. Pharmaceutical companies have been investing heavily in production, distribution and research in Belgium, and feel they are not rewarded for these efforts.
With the pact, the Belgian State promises not to increase taxes and even decrease them if budgets allow. Reimbursement procedures will be made more efficient, and Belgium will maintain an “open dialogue” with the sector in order not to surprise Belgian managers with measures which are hard to defend in front of their European or global headquarters. Once every quarter the Minister and the pharma sector will meet to discuss government plans.
The pact is based on an “engagement” and doesn’t provide any warranties.Source: AmCham