German pharma's hopes and fears - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

German pharma's hopes and fears
Despite being a historically strong performer in the pharmaceutical arena, Germany is now underperforming compared with the growth of other European markets. Are government cost-containment policies to blame or have German pharmaceutical companies themselves contributed to the decline?

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 22, Issue 6


Germany has certainly suffered a decline in its reputation as a centre for pharmaceutical R&D and for commerce, but its position is not irretrievable. There are areas in which Germany still has an excellent reputation — identifiable areas of strength include clinical trials, biotechnology and a skilled workforce. Initiatives to revitalise the pharmaceutical sector should take advantage of Germany's strengths in these important areas and take account of the globalisation of the industry. In addition, the government needs to make a determined effort to win over skeptics who believe that the country's healthcare system does not value innovative new drugs because future progress in medicine will depend on research into novel treatments.

Faiz Kermani is a freelance consultant and President of the Global Health Education Foundation, a charity that supports medical education and research projects in developing countries. He is a member of Pharmaceutical Technology Europe's Editorial Advisory Board.


1. Statistics 2009. The Pharmaceutical Industry in Germany (VFA, Germany, July 2009).

2. VFA, "Red-green actionism results in a reduction of jobs, a decline in sales and shifts in research projects" (2003).

3. Deutsche Welle, "The Decline of German Pharma Companies" (2005).

4. R. Angelmar, Journal of Medical Marketing, 7, 77–88 (2007).

5. BMJ, "Bayer faces shake up after Lipobay withdrawn" (2001).

6. Marketwatch, Bayer buying Schering stake to fend off Merck (2006).

7. BioSpectrum Asia Edition, "Is Pfizer trying to buy Bayer?" (2008).

8. VFA, "Increase for medical reasons" (2007).

9. Deutsche Welle, "A Quick Guide To 'Agenda 2010'" (2003).

10. Europharma Today, "German Health Minister Attacks Drug Prices With Forced Rebates" (2010).

11. M. Bräuninger et al., Policy Check: Status and Perspectives of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Germany (Hamburg Institute of International Economics, 2008).

12. Federal Ministry of Education and Research, "The Pharmaceuticals Initiative for Germany" (2007).

The author says...

  • Germany is the third largest international market for pharmaceutical sales by volume.
  • Sales in the German pharmacy market have increased by 25% over 2001–2008 compared with an increase of more than 50% for Spain and the UK.
  • The government's targeted spending on pharmaceuticals, as well as German pharmaceutical companies themselves who are accused of failing to adapt to changing market dynamics, have been blamed for the damage to the sector.
  • The longer-term outlook for Germany is more positive than the short term thanks to initiatives to take advantage of Germany's strengths in biotechnology and clinical trials.


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