Conditional reimbursement within the Dutch drug policy
In The Netherlands, conditional reimbursement is considered to be a promising approach to achieving more effective and efficient pharmaceutical care. Because of its formal status and nationwide regulation, conditional reimbursement may allow governments to better control medical decision-making. To evaluate the effects of conditional reimbursement on medicine use and its performance as a policy tool, we compared observed volumes of medicine use with expected volumes. In addition, we mapped the annual growth by analysing trends in the volumes of use of all conditionally reimbursed drugs; starting with the year the drug entered the market (using macro-level data). Next we explored five cases in depth (using micro-level data) in order to explore what fraction of individual prescriptions met the requirements. We also performed qualitative research (document analysis, interviews (N = 65)) in order to obtain the stakeholders' perspectives on how the measure functions, as well as to interpret the case studies data further. The findings suggest that conditional reimbursement may be an effective policy instrument, but that several changes are needed to optimize its impact. These changes are predominantly related to transparency (e.g. conditions are set following clear procedures and criteria), legitimacy (conditions should be consistent with criteria for prioritization), feasibility of procedures to control appropriate use, and timely and appropriate commitment of the stakeholders.