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French pharma market to stagnate as govt embraces generics to cut health expenditure

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The market is set to decline from $35.5 bn in 2017 to $34.16 bn in 2021

The pharmaceuticals market in France is set to decline from $35.5 billion in 2017 to $34.16 billion in 2021, representing a negative compound annual growth rate of one per cent, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Despite France’s robust public health insurance system and rising elderly population, increasing pressure on pharma selling prices, patent expiration of branded drugs and foreign exchange fluctuations are stifling growth. The government is currently focussing on the use of generics as a cost-containment tool to reduce healthcare expenditure. Indeed, the generics market is mainly driven by a favourable regulatory regime and a continuous wave of patent expiries, acting as a barrier to pharma market growth.

France follows external reference pricing, which is linked with other European countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK. A price cut by any of these countries’ governments will quickly translate into price reductions in France, and repeated price cuts have curtailed the rise in healthcare spending.

France’s reimbursement policy is grounded in clinical effectiveness rather than the cost-versus-benefit approach that other countries such as the US and the UK employ. This means that pharma companies take a higher risk in order to see returns on innovative products, and new drugs have to demonstrate a level of improvement over existing products, which can be seen as a deterrent to investment.

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