N-VA wants more transparency for secret pharmaceutical deals

28 October 2019

The N-VA, together with sp.a, is submitting a bill to obtain greater transparency about the secret contracts between the government and pharmaceutical companies. “We are not opposed to the secret agreements and we realise that a certain amount of discretion is needed, but we must still be able to monitor the situation one way or another,” the N-VA says.

Heap of money

The so-called “Article 81 contracts” were a topic of discussion recently. For example, Social security Social security is currently managed at the Federal level in Belgium. The most important pillars of Belgian social security are: sickness and invalidity insurance (NIDHI), pensions, unemployment insurance and child allowances. In addition, occupational illness, occupational accidents and annual holidays are dealt with at this level. Some Flemish parties have been campaigning for years for (large parts of) social security to be transferred to the Regions and Communities. social security does not reimburse Avastin, a cheap medicine to treat age-related blindness, while it does reimburse the much more expensive variant Lucentis. According to the opposition, the situation is unjustifiably costing social security a heap of money.

Strict secrecy

According to the cabinet of Minister of Public Health Maggie De Block, there is no question of an additional expense as a large discount was obtained in secret negotiations. As a result of that discount, the price is said to have decreased to the level of the cheaper Avastin. The only problem here is that nobody can verify that claim due to the strict secrecy surrounding Article 81.

In the bill submitted by the N-VA and sp.a, the Court of Audit will be able to examine the Article 81 contracts in certain cases and at the request of Parliament.

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