Merz sees health as the biggest social policy construction site

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Friedrich Merz, Federal President of the CDU and parliamentary group leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag /picture alliance, Britta Pedersen

Berlin – CDU leader Friedrich Merz wants to strengthen the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare system through social reforms and a reduction in the tax burden and bureaucracy. Europe must reduce its dependence on fragile supply chains, he explained at the general assembly of the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (IBP) in Berlin.

There is no sector of the German economy that has such growth potential and is growing as quickly as the healthcare industry. “We are interested in continuing to be a strong pharmaceutical location – and I hesitate to keep my word,” Merz explained.

The German pharmaceutical industry has lost quality and innovative strength in recent years. “The demonization of biotechnology and genetic engineering was the beginning of the decline of this part of the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “We still haven’t recovered from that.”

Given the global strategic situation, it is also unacceptable that Germany and Europe are now dependent on international supply chains to guarantee the basic supply of medicines. “If there is still a single penicillin manufacturer in Austria, in Europe, that is about to be acquired by a Chinese investor, that should be a warning sign.”

He spoke out against the exclusive dependence on subsidies to bring production and research back to the country. The 2.5 billion euros that the public sector spent to promote Eli Lily’s work in Alzey would correspond to the outflow of capital from Germany in a single week. In 2022, a new negative record was set with a net capital outflow of 115 billion euros from Germany.

To bring about a turnaround, the place must become attractive again. Labor costs in Germany are significantly too high. It does not refer to salaries, but above all to additional salary costs. “We cannot avoid reforming our social systems,” she emphasized. The health system is “the biggest sociopolitical work of the coming years”.

Once again he made clear his rejection of citizens’ money, which creates false incentives and encourages people to stop working because it would no longer be financially profitable for them. This has to change.

Furthermore, the issue of bureaucracy must finally be addressed. “Complexity costs for companies have increased immensely,” she warned. The EU, in particular, plays an inglorious role in this context. In the future, it will have to focus more on big issues such as foreign and security policy rather than small-scale regulation.

Furthermore, Germany regularly exceeds European requirements. After a possible change of government next year, he wants to ensure that EU requirements are implemented individually in the future and that unnecessary regulations that are based on EU requirements but are not necessary under EU law are eliminated. He has already charged us with determining where this is possible.

Energy costs and tax burdens are also too high. He wants to reduce the corporate tax burden to 25% and introduce a uniform corporate tax regardless of legal form.

Macroeconomic conditions must be created to promote medical innovations again. This includes strengthening patent law as an economic guarantee for innovations. But what is also needed is the necessary socio-political climate that no longer disregards entrepreneurship, as well as the necessary infrastructure for research and development.

“If a company like Biontech moves its research department to Britain because it is not possible to carry out research in the EU, we have to ask ourselves why this happens,” he said. It should be easier to use anonymous data generated during patient treatment for research in the pharmaceutical industry.

BPI President Oliver Kirst, in turn, criticized the lack of reimbursement as the main cause of the decline of the pharmaceutical industry. There are supply bottlenecks “because medicines are only seen as a cost factor,” he said. Competitions for discount contracts from legal health insurance companies – especially those with just a surcharge – are largely responsible for the fact that almost no pharmaceutical production is based in Europe.

Because if just one manufacturer won the contract, all other manufacturers would know that they would not be able to make any profits from that same product in the coming years and would shut down their production.

Its reconstruction would be a lengthy process and would not be an economically viable option in these circumstances. There is therefore a need for at least competitions with several prizes, in which several producers of active ingredients are also specified. © lau/

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