The decline in reimbursements for non-generic drugs, which began in 2020, continues. From today, Smecta, a 100% French intestinal dressing used in the event of stomach aches and diarrhea, will be less well reimbursed than the generic produced by the American laboratory Mylan … and made in China.

Since January 2020, the reimbursement of originator drugs, that is to say, subject to a patent, is annexed to the price of the generic. In other words, if you choose to buy a “brand name” drug rather than a generic, you will be responsible for the difference. In the case of Smecta, the generic price is set at 3.60 euros and that of Smecta at 4.39 euros for a box of 30 sachets. As of today, you will have to pay a remaining charge of 79 centimes.

Favor the generic

This reduction in reimbursement is part of a broader desire to put generics in the foreground. In France, less than 40% of originator drugs are listed in the generic drugs directory, that is to say they can be manufactured by other laboratories and sold for less.

To promote generics and save money, incentives have been put in place. Since 2015, doctors have been required to write their prescriptions using an international non-proprietary name (INN). Prescribing in INN means using the scientific name of the drug and therefore recommending a molecule rather than a brand.

To counter the reluctance of some doctors to comply with the INN prescription, pharmacists must systematically substitute any originator drug with a generic. If they do not, the Health Insurance can reject the file and refuse to pay.

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Bad news for the French manufacturer

The arrival of the generic on the market is bad news for the Ipsen laboratory, which produces Smecta. Until now, the generic produced in China did not meet the quality standards set by the European Union. But since November 2019, the generic drug has been authorized on the French market and its reimbursement is validated by the Health Insurance.

The publication in the Official Journal on February 3 of the generic reimbursement price therefore confirms what Ipsen feared. Despite their appeals to the CEPS (Economic Committee for Health Products), the body in charge of setting drug prices, it is indeed the generic that will be the best reimbursed. However, the French laboratory had already made concessions, by agreeing to lower its price on several occasions.

A decision that Ipsen finds it hard to swallow. For the French laboratory, by seeking at all costs to promote the use of generics, the French health authorities put French production in difficulty. 90 positions in the Ipsen Family Health division have already been eliminated at the end of 2020.