In the seven years that the Nordisk Lægemiddelforum (Nordic Pharmaceuticals Forum) has existed, it has held two common Nordic tendering procedures. It has managed to get the health ministers in Denmark, Norway, and later Iceland, to establish a common Nordic agreement of intent on joint tendering procedures and price negotiations. Countries have collaborated, knowledge-shared and inspired each other to new solutions within fields such as new pharmaceuticals, sustainability, horizon scanning, production and security of supply. The latest success is to get close to completing a joint Nordic strategy to set the course for future Nordic collaboration in the Nordic Pharmaceuticals Forum.
“Few of us believed that we would get so far in so few years. But there's been strong willingness and commitment by the member countries to find solutions together to the challenges facing us all: A globalised market in which security of supply is becoming ever more uncertain; and in which new medicines have become increasingly costly. We will use the extensive knowledge and experience we have in the individual countries, combined with what we have developed together, to strengthen Nordic and international cooperation even more," said Flemming Sonne, CEO at Amgros.
Joint strategy for five countries
However, what do we really want to achieve through a joint Nordic strategy in this area?
We asked Norwegian Tommy Juhl Nielsen, Divisjonsdirektør Legemidler, Sykehusinnkjøp (divisional director of hospital procurement).
"I hope that our Nordic collaboration will achieve even better results than we could have achieved separately. We have to exploit the situation that we can have joint price negotiations with suppliers and joint procurement of pharmaceuticals. And together we have to find solutions to environmental and sustainability issues," he said.
Because the opportunities are like the challenges: they're shared. And they're big. And they have no national borders. Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are struggling to secure supplies of hospital pharmaceuticals, and to get the most favourable prices for new, expensive hospital pharmaceuticals.
Different countries have different setups. Therefore there can be different national solutions. Nevertheless, we can reap great benefits from discussing with each other. And with a joint strategy, can we prioritise and ensure that we're all working in the same direction," said Tommy Juhl Nielsen.
Common Nordic voice
But doesn't broader collaboration create more red tape?
“No. Expanding our Nordic collaboration to include a common strategy is about setting a common course that we agree on and that can take us in the same direction. We don't want to build a system that is harder to navigate in, but a system that makes it easier to secure solutions in a very complex area," said Flemming Sonne.
One thing is stronger Nordic collaboration. But will the joint strategy also have an impact on European collaboration?
“First we have to be one hundred percent clear about our common Nordic voice. But there is no doubt that we in the Nordic countries, believe that we have good and sustainable solutions to secure supplies of pharmaceuticals and achieve financially advantageous prices. We also hope we can use the solutions to make the EU an even stronger market for purchases of hospital pharmaceuticals," said Tommy Juhl Nielsen.
The Nordic Pharmaceuticals Forum hopes to complete its joint strategy by this the summer.