The Single Market for Pharmaceuticals in the European Union in Light of European Court of Justice Rulings
This article analyses the likely implications for the European pharmaceutical market of 2 European Court rulings (Kohll and Decker) and addresses whether these will contribute to the completion of the single European market. In doing so, the Kohll and Decker cases are discussed and the likely implications of these cases for key stakeholders (patients, providers, payers and the industry) are investigated. Of the 2 cases, the latter has direct application to pharmaceuticals as tradable goods. The article argues that the short term implications for the stakeholders, relating to the freedom of providing goods, may lead to a re-thinking of how pharmaceutical products are financed and provided in European Union (EU) countries in the long term. A key corollary of the Decker case is that it leads to greater transparency and awareness of pharmaceutical price differentials across the member states. As part of this transparency, consumers may benefit directly by gaining access to a product that may not be available in their country of residence, or may be available but at a higher cost. Consumers may also benefit indirectly through greater transparency and efficiency in the long term. Providers may wish to increase their procurement from cheaper sources of the same product and much will depend on their future procurement strategies. Manufacturers will in this case face an increase in parallel trade streams and may respond by not marketing or producing in `low-price' countries. The rulings add a further supranational dimension to a national policy issue and may have far reaching implications for the EU pharmaceutical market and industry.
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