By agreeing on a discount contract, a drug manufacturer promises to a health insurance company that a discount on the list price will be given for a single drug or an assortment of drugs. In turn, the health insurance company agrees with the manufacturer that all of their insurants will normally receive these drugs to which the contract applies. The duration of the contract would usually be two years. However, some contract information is kept secret by the health insurance companies and manufacturers, e.g. the exact amount that is saved by the discounts.
The discount contracts between health insurances and drug manufacturers have led to a dynamic development within the pharmaceutical market: Since 2007, the discounted drugs have taken priority over other pharmaceuticals with the same agents. If a doctor prescribes an agent or if he allows the exchange of a prescribed drug, the pharmacist is obliged to dispense the discounted drug that is set by the respective health insurance company. For the pharmacists, these discounted drugs create considerable additional work, for instance in matters of consultation.
Basically, the German Pharmacists' Association supports the discount contracts the German lawmakers initiated. However, the DAV reminds: All involved parties, particularly patients and pharmacists, must be informed about the discount contracts by the health insurance companies in time. The drug manufacturer must be able to deliver the required drugs at any time. The health insurances must make the received discounts transparent so that the savings within the pharmaceutical sector and therefore the effectiveness of this instrument can be evaluated.