Drugs are a favourite target in the public control of health care spending in France. The refundable drug “market” is subject to price control by the public authorities.
In this regulated process in the French pharmaceutical market, the Transparency Commission holds a special place. The French know probably very little about this public body, which rarely comes up in the debate. Its decisions, however, can have a serious impact on their state of health.
The Commission’s findings serve in effect as a “foil” for the public authorities, which use them to impose price controls on pharmaceutical products or to exclude them from the list of refundable drugs. These findings are presented as “scientific” but actually hide a bureaucratic process that leads to delays in the commercial release of some drugs in France – or sometimes even to their nonrelease – to the detriment of the quality of life of patients who might have benefited from them. Under pressure from the public authorities, the Commission thus becomes an instrument for controlling health care costs, penalising pharmaceutical innovation.