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What is a discount agreement?

Discount agreements are concluded between pharmaceutical manufacturers and statutory health insurers (SHI). The legal basis for the conclusion of these direct agreements was created in 2004. If a health insurance company has a discount agreement with a drug manufacturer for a pharmaceutical, it makes a saving with each package of this pharmaceutical because the manufacturer grants a price deduction (discount).

How does a discount agreement come into being?

Before the contract is concluded, the statutory health insurers publish requests for tender for individual active substances which drug manufacturers can respond to. The main criterion for statutory health insurers to award a surcharge is the price. That means: The contract is awarded to the most favourable tender. If a discount agreement is concluded, it is usually effective for two years.

What's in it for the patient?

Pharmacists are obliged to turn over a discounted product as long as the doctor only prescribes the active ingredient and does not check off the aut-idem box. This way, patients always receive the preparation of the manufacturer with the best price. This means that patients have to make a lower co-payment than with more expensive branded products.

What you also need to know

The check of the aut-idem box prevents substitution with another preparation.

Why do I keep getting new products?

If a pharmaceutical manufacturer is awarded the contract from a statutory health insurer, patients may receive the product of another manufacturer if a discount agreement is concluded. If you have problems with this, talk to your doctor and ask him to check off the aut-idem box. This prevents substitution by another preparation at the pharmacy.

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Why do I have to pay extra for some products?

In principle, the costs for prescribed prescription drugs in Germany are covered by the SHI. Patients only pay part of the costs as an additional payment. The amount of the co-payment to be paid depends on the price of the drug. However, the co-payment is at least 5 euros (prescription fee) and at most 10 euros. As soon as the price of a drug drops 30 percent below the statutory fixed amount, co-payment is waived completely. In the case of discounted products, the statutory health insurer can exempt its insured persons from the whole or at least half the co-payment.