Hungary drug firms' budget payments to exceed target

BUDAPEST, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Hungary’s drug producers will likely have to pay more into the country’s drug subsidy budget in 2009 than earlier expected, the National Health Insurance Fund, OEP, said on Tuesday.

Drug makers were expected to pay 35.5 billion forints ($195.7 million) as part of their turnover of certain subsidised products and on fees over sales agents.

However, sales trends in the first nine months indicate that actual payments will be around 40 billion forints, OEP Spokeswoman Barbara Molnar told Reuters.

The overall subsidy spending in the state budget, set at 343 billion forints for the full year, is likely to be around the target, Molnar added.

Producers and distributors have to pay a certain portion of their turnover of subsidised products back to the state on a monthly basis and if the annual subsidy budget exceeds the target, drug makers also have to chip in to cover part of the difference.

“Payments on turnover and sales agents will be around 40 billion,” Molnar said. “That’s above the 35.5 billion target.”

“But based on current trends, we expect the overall subsidy spending at around the target so producers will have to make little or no additional contribution in this aspect,” Molnar said.

Richter Gedeon GDRB.BU, one of the country's biggest drug firms, paid 750 million forints into the budget in the first six months on its turnover and 235 million forints after its sales representatives.

Egis EGIS.BU, another one of the country's largest producers, paid 474 million forints into the budget in the second quarter over its turnover and 155 million after its sales agents. ($1=181.35 Forint) (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)