A group of people standing and sitting by a desk and watching a document being signed.
Front: Ólöf Þórhallsdóttir and Mikael Svensson.-Back from left: Steen Werner Hansen, Rannveig Alma Einarsdóttir, Flemming Sonne, Einar Andreassen, Kerstin Carlsson and Tommy Juhl Nielsen

The world is changing, and the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum is following suit. Members from the forum’s five countries are now launching a new strategy to strengthen objectives and cooperation in the pharmaceutical area.

Much has changed since purchasing organizations from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark founded the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum in 2015. The pandemic showed us that
the pharmaceutical market is global and vulnerable, and uncertain supply lines and problems with access to raw materials are now known challenges for the Nordic countries. In 2020, the EU launched a new pharmaceutical strategy, and this will probably lead to a revision of European pharmaceutical legislation in the spring of 2023. The EU has also established HERA to help ensure access to medicines in the event of a pandemic. In addition, the cost of medicines in Nordic health budgets continues to increase due to changing demographics and new, expensive medicines.

There are therefore several good reasons why the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum is now launching a joint strategy to identify a new direction for cooperation in the coming years.

– We have spent the last seven years sharing knowledge, identifying opportunities and working together to find joint solutions to the challenges we all face. We have achieved a lot, but if we are to continue to keep pace with upcoming changes and developments in the market, we must be even more closely linked.

Flemming Sonne, chairman of the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum and managing director of Amgros in Denmark.

The new joint strategy focuses on three areas:

  1. Innovative collaboration on procurement
  2. Security of delivery
  3. A strong Nordic voice in the market

Common guidelines for Nordic negotiations

By focusing on innovative cooperation on procurement, the organizations in the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum hope to ensure that patients continue to have access to both new and existing medicines. We will also concentrate on making procurement even more environmentally friendly. Therefore, within the area of innovative cooperation on procurement, the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum has decided to emphasize three areas:

  1. New and promising drugs
  2. Joint Nordic procurement
  3. Horizon scanning

– As national procurers of medicines for hospitals, we all experience increasing pressure on our budgets due to rising prices for new, often promising medicines. We already have experience with joint Nordic price negotiations for such medicines, and in the long run this can help us ensure better access to treatment for patients. We will learn from our experiences, and continue to work on developing guidelines for joint negotiations, says Tommy Juhl Nielsen, divisional director for the pharmaceuticals division at Sykehusinnkjøp HF in Norway.

Advanced treatment methods are also a focus area in the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum’s new medicine strategy. Members from all countries have seen that it can take a long time to get agreements in place in this area, and we also expect that advanced treatment methods will make up an increasing proportion of new medical treatment in the future. Therefore, the countries, initially Sweden, Norway and Denmark, will work together and share knowledge about standard conditions for advanced treatment methods.

Will contribute to the green agenda

The Nordic countries already have good experience with joint procurement across borders. The countries have drawn up a joint procurement procedure that includes environmental criteria, which resulted in the collaboration receiving the European award “Innovation & Procurement Excellence” in 2022.

The new joint strategy shows that the countries have clear ambitions to contribute to the green shift, and to be seen as contributors to sustainable and innovative solutions for the procurement of medicines for public healthcare.

– The organizations in the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum have an important task in ensuring access to medicines for their public hospitals. This is also one of the reasons why we have carried out joint procurement. On the other hand, the time when access was only about price, quality and shipping of medicines to hospitals is now over. Now we also have to think about sustainability and the environment. That is why we have decided to be a contributor to the green agenda, says Rannveig Alma Einarsdóttir, clinical pharmacist and project manager in the Medicine Committee in Landspítala in Iceland.

Utilizes unique knowledge from Horizon scanning

Horizon scanning is already an important area for cooperation in the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum. This has helped us plan processes, prepare price negotiations with suppliers, and organize tenders in good time. However, we have also exchanged experiences in this area with countries outside the Nordic community. Amgros and the Swedish regional cooperation model for medicines, with the Stockholm region at the forefront, have therefore played a key role in establishing a cooperation between eight European countries, called The International Horizon Scanning Initiative.

It is therefore natural that cooperation on horizon scanning is part of the new joint drug strategy.

– Horizon scanning is absolutely critical to ensure that we have full knowledge of which medicines are on their way to the Nordic markets. This helps us to prepare future negotiations, to have an overview of when competitors enter the market, and to organize procurement procedures. All our organizations should make use of the extensive knowledge and the unique position Nordic countries have within horizon scanning, says Marianne Aufrecht-Gustafsson, senior legal advisor for the administration of health and medical treatment in the Stockholm region in Sweden.

Shares knowledge about backorders

Security of supply is also a focus area in the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum’s new pharmaceutical strategy.

– The Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum has been very skilled in sharing experiences about how we can deal with recurring problems with back orders. We clearly have to continue with this, but we also believe that there is a lot we can learn by sharing knowledge and collaborating on more strategic initiatives to strengthen supply security for medicines, says Kerstin Carlsson, director at HUS Pharmacy, HUS Group, the joint the authority for Helsinki and Uusimaa in Finland.

An important part of strengthening delivery security is the production of medicines for individual patients at hospital pharmacies. Because of this, the countries also have ambitions to share knowledge about the development and production of such prescription drugs.

Initially, the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum will establish an overview of all the areas where the countries currently produce such medicines. In the longer term, the countries hope that it will be possible to stock them.

Wants a strong Nordic voice

The Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum has stated several times about the initiatives and results the forum’s cooperation has produced. This has resulted in us already receiving recognition for our work to give the public sector access to medicines. We still need to be even more visible.

– We live in a world where things develop quickly. Global suppliers and regional and international cooperation forums have an important voice. The Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum must also have a strong voice, so that our interests are heard. We must also strengthen the dialogue with our stakeholders so that we can continue to learn from each other, says Flemming Sonne, chairman of the Nordic Pharmaceutical Forum and managing director of Amgros.

You can read the complete drug strategy below:

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