Advice & reporting for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries

Public tenders in the Belgian hospital: good and/or cheap purchase of medicines?

Fri, 14/10/2011 - 3:35pm -- Inneke Van de Vijver

What ?

Today, the law of 15/06/2006 on Public procurement has not yet come into force, but this is expected to happen mid 2012. At that time, all hospitals (private, public, university) will operate completely under the law on public procurements as far as the purchase of medicines and medical devices is concerned.

The target audience of the seminar organized by the Network of Medical-Pharmaceutical Committees and the Network of Committees Medical Equipment, held this 14th of October mainly consisted of hospital pharmacists who are currently negotiating the price of medicines. In future however, a larger group of stakeholders will be involved in the allocation of public procurements. This involvement starts at the initiation of the tender offer, particularly in drafting the selection criteria. Therefore, bridges between doctors / nurses and service purchase / pharmacy will have to be built. The general welfare of the hospital will be increasingly important. Question remains how the therapeutic freedom of the doctor will be incorporated in the overall concept.

Not only a matter of price.

A decision will be taken on more than just the price. Other aspects such as user friendliness, quality, safety, support given to ensure continuous education, ... could, at least in principle, also be considered.

The selection criteria will be crucial, since these will be the basis of the final decision​​. Criteria aimed at excluding non-Belgian providers or requirements that narrow down the therapeutic choice to much will not be tolerated.

Numerous questions remain (temporarily) unanswered

  • What about urgent purchases of expensive drugs when there is no time for a long procedure?
  • The new system will probably lead to cheaper drugs but how about the increasing administrative costs for the hospital?
  • What about the confidentiality of information?

Conclude contracts now !

Clearly, there will be no real transition period. However, by concluding contracts with the pharmaceutical companies for 2 to 5 years right now, hospitals can create their own transition period since ongoing contracts cannot simply be interrupted.

Conclusion: Nobody is well-prepared.

Nobody knows exactly how things will actually work, although a number of hospitals assume they will be able to fit the old system into the new one, provided the right selection criteria are defined. In addition, it is not entirely new: the law on public procurement in hospital environments already exists for other matters than medicines.