Drug-buying moves threaten sales from India to Ireland

Look out, drugmakers. Three government moves could put another squeeze on sales. Spain's beleaguered leaders are forcing citizens to foot the bill for more drugs. Irish officials agreed on another set of drug-price cuts. And India announced plans to provide "free drugs for all," via a state tender process aimed at buying meds on the cheap.

First, the Spanish announcement: Under a measure expected to pass later today, patients will have to pay full price for 456 prescription drugs. The change will save the government more than €440 million ($549 million), Reuters reports. Officials expect drugmakers to sustain "moderate or serious damage" to their sales, a Health Ministry document notes.

In Ireland, government officials and pharma leaders have agreed to cut branded drug prices by 30% as soon as generic versions hit the market. Previously, branded prices dropped 20% automatically in the face of generic competition, and another 15% after 22 months. The government expects to save €10 million this year and up to €20 million next.

Meanwhile, Indian officials announced their free drugs program, slated to begin in October. The government has set aside $17.5 million in additional funding to pay for the "essential" meds, to be purchased in bulk through a new central procurement agency. States will provide additional funding. The kicker: Public-sector doctors will be allowed to prescribe generic meds only. Whether branded generics qualify isn't clear.

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