Savings in overall expenditure

Today, medicines account for a smaller share of the overall healthcare expenses. Novel therapies also have a clear impact on the total cost of social welfare and healthcare.

Even if the total healthcare expenditure has grown, the share accounted by medicines of the overall healthcare expense has, by no means, grown but decreased from 18 to 15 percent between the years 2008 and 2016. 

When medicines are assessed, the focus tends to be on their direct and immediate impacts (such as the capacity to lower the blood sugar content) even if the medicines also influence the patients’ functional and working capacity, and thereby their input in society.

Through developed pharmacotherapies and technologies, the healthcare operations require less resources, and the emphasis is increasingly on out-patient care. On the surface, this may look like increased use of medicines but it also means transfer of treatment from the inpatient wards or specialised healthcare to follow-up actions in out-patient care.

Therefore, to only follow the direct or immediate healthcare expenses is too a narrow perspective when the impacts of medicines are being assessed. We should also analyse the changes attained in the costs related to functional and working capacity factors, such as invalidity pensions.

This was shown by the survey assigned by Pharma Industry Finland (PIF) where the value generated by pharmacotherapies was assessed from the perspective of both the patient and the overall societal costs. The survey included five example diseases: type II diabetes, infective bowel diseases (IBD), MS, skin melanoma and multiple myeloma.

It can be shown that several new therapies have reduced costs per patient (for example, for diabetes, IBD and MS) or the costs have only mildly increased (skin melanoma and multiple myeloma).  This also coincides with a decrease in mortality. 

Patients' functional and working capacity has also improved which has major societal cost impacts in terms of invalidity pensions, sickness allowances and benefits payable to the disabled.