The Finnish medicine prices are constituted by three factors:
- The wholesale price includes the shares of the pharmaceutical company and the wholesaler, and they vary according to the contracts made.
- The pharmacy will have its own margin on the medicine sold.
- The consumer prices of medicines are also influenced by the value added tax and the pharmacy fee. Pharmacies pay the pharmacy fee to the State. It is a progressively increasing amount based on the pharmacy net sales. Larger pharmacies pay a higher fee.
Pharmaceutical companies can determine the wholesale price of medicines. According to the law, the wholesale price must be the same for all. As a consequence, the price of prescription-only and self-care medicines is the same in every pharmacy.
Prices contained by reimbursement system and price competition
The majority of the prescription-only medicines are reimbursable. The patient will only be reimbursed for the medicines included in the reimbursement system. Society pays a share of the medicine expenses but not at any cost. Medicines can enter the reimbursement system only at a price found reasonable by the regulatory authorities.
In practice, the sales of the medicinal product can start when its entry into the reimbursement system has been confirmed. The medicine then gets a temporary wholesale price within the reimbursement system. In the beginning, the patient numbers are small. When the use of the medicinal product becomes established and patient numbers grow, the prices tend to decrease at every renewal of the wholesale price.
Medicine prices are also pushed down by the price competition which has been further boosted by the generic substitution and reference price systems. Consumers also benefit from the fact that many medicinal products come with several options available at the pharmacy.