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Centre for Public Health in Economics and Business

Faculty of Economics and Business
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Expensive medicines from a pharmaceutical company's point of view

Datum:24 mei 2017
Alfred Bein
Alfred Bein

During the last 30 years Alfred Bein worked in several commercial roles in different companies in Germany. Before he came to the Netherlands, he was part of the European Leadership Team in the Headquarter of Novartis in Basel. Since two years Mr. Bein has been General Manager of Novartis Pharma in the Netherlands. On the 31st of May he will speak about the role of the pharma industry in the cost structure for medicines. We interviewed the General Manager in the run-up to the spring symposium

Can you tell us something about your daily work and responsibilities?
“As a General Manager I’m responsible for the people and the business of Novartis in the Netherlands. I try to find a good balance between being in close contact on regular basis with all the different departments internally, and spending sufficient time in the external environment with the different stakeholders of the health care system. I’m involved in international working groups and try to stimulate the sharing of learnings from other countries with similarities to the Netherlands. Besides that I’m - as a member of the board of the “Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen” -  involved in discussions about the health care system and how we, as an industry association, can be part in the discussion to find sustainable solutions for the future.”

According to your vision; what is the current health care system like?
“Netherlands is seen as a country with high scientific expertise and the medical centers do have a high reputation in participating in international clinical trials. To be attractive for international organisations to further invest in the Netherlands, the health care system should be in balance to support innovations, fast access to the market and managing of the financing of the system. During the next 15-20 years we will see a strong increase of the aging population and based on that a strong increase of patients with chronic diseases. This will lead to a stronger need for innovative medicines, need for breakthroughs in specific indications and more targeted, individualised and personalised treatments.”

How do you think we should cope with the expensive medicines?
“I think it is very important that we stay in dialogue with all stakeholders in the health care environment. Together we should talk about possible solutions in creating a sustainable health care system. Based on the challenges of the future – aging population, more patients with chronic diseases, need for breakthroughs in indications like Oncology or Alzheimers’s disease – we should have an ongoing dialogue on how we can guarantee that all patients get the medicine and the treatment they need for their specific disease at the right time. In this context the cost factor is important and the pharmaceutical industry has the obligation to be part of solution finding. But, not only cost of the medication is playing a role in the health care environment. In the Netherlands and also in other European countries, the costs of the medicines are below 10% of the total costs in the health care system. For that reason we need to find solutions for the whole system.”

Have you thought about a solution for the problem of expensive medicines?
Novartis has a clear commitment on Research and Development and we would like to develop innovative medicines to deliver better treatment options for the patients. Since several years we work on projects and pilots on different topics, e.g. “outcome based pricing”, “pay for performance” and we are very open for ideas and cooperation with the different partners in the health care system. In order to optimise the treatment Novartis has developed supporting programs and digital solutions beyond the medication in specific disease areas.”

Can you tell us shortly what your presentation will be about? 
“During the symposium I would like to share with the participants what Novartis is doing as a pharmaceutical company. We explain our vision about the role of our industry and the industry association in creating solutions for the future, together with all partners in the health care environment.”

What are your expectations of the symposium on the 31st of May?
“I hope that we will create a basis for collaboration with the different stakeholders in the health care environment. Also I hope for inclusion of the pharmaceutical industry into the discussion on finding options and solutions.”

Curious about Mr. Bein’s contribution? You are still able to join the symposium. Sign up and we hope to meet you there!

Tags: Symposium
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