May 1, 2013 8:35 pm

An easy but unsustainable healthcare solution

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From Mr Chris Stirling.

Sir, I was surprised to discover a glaring inconsistency between two of your editorials on April 30: “France’s trust issues” and “Tackling infections”.

In the first, you comment that it would be sensible for France to reduce its public healthcare spending by reimbursing only generic medicines. In the second, you advocate innovation and investment in drugs and vaccines to tackle the burden of infectious diseases.

There are two points to make here. First, without assurances of reimbursement, why would life sciences companies continue to invest in therapeutic areas that offer no guarantee of a return on their investment? The short-term fix for France is not a long-term solution for the wider healthcare economy.

Second, the medicines bill typically accounts for only 10 per cent of public healthcare spending in developed economies. Surely concentrating on where the other 90 per cent of the healthcare budget is spent (typically acute hospitals) makes better sense? Targeting medicines is an easy, but ultimately unsustainable, solution; it would be far better to focus on redesigning failing healthcare systems while recognising that effective and innovative medicines help to keep people out of expensive hospitals.

Chris Stirling, Partner, UK and Global Head of Life Sciences, KPMG

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