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HEALTH

Berlin aims to end big pharma’s price monopoly

Germany's government moved on Tuesday to break drug makers' grip on prices with a bill aimed at saving the creaking health care system about €2 billion a year.

Berlin aims to end big pharma's price monopoly
Photo: DPA

Currently, drug makers are able to name any price they wish for as long as a medicine is under patent, but now the firms will have to do more to prove that a drug offers benefits over what is already on the market.

The change will also force the firms to negotiate prices with Germany’s many health insurers, which are on course to run up an €11 billion deficit next year.

The move is part of a planned root-and-branch reform of German healthcare by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s eight-month-old coalition as it seeks to cut spending and achieve a balanced budget by 2016.

Earlier this month she unveiled more than €80 billion worth of spending cuts, but plans on where exactly money will be saved remain vague and she has ruled out raising taxes.

The bill is due to go before parliament later this summer and the government hopes it will take effect by the end of the year.

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HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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