Hans Büller (1952) is a paediatrician, former Chairman of the Board of Erasmus MC, and founder of Fair Medicine.
Why is Fair Medicine a good idea?
“When I said farewell as the Chairman of the Board of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, someone asked me: if you could do one thing, one thing that is truly important, what would it be? I immediately knew the answer: To do something about the lack of transparency in the market for pharmaceuticals. That has always been one of my biggest irritations as a hospital board member. You never know exactly how the pharmaceutical industry sets their prices. Medicine costs a lot of money – money that we all pay in taxes. That is why transparency is crucial. Show us what it costs to develop a drug, to produce it and how much you earn on it. That’s what Fair Medicine does.”
Where do you see the most important bottlenecks in the current pharmaceutical market?
“For many small groups of patients, there are no medications available, or the medications that are available are too expensive. Out of a total of around 5,000 rare diseases, only 200 have medications to treat them. That is just four percent. The rest have nothing. Moreover, when a new medicine is made available to patients, it often costs hundreds of thousands of Euros per patient per year. That’s the system that we want to break through.”
What can Fair Medicine mean for your personally, and for the patients for whom you advocate?
“The most important thing to me, is that Fair Medicine works according to the coalition model. Patients, doctors, researchers, hospitals, pharmacists and investors all commit to developing a new medication together. That is a completely different principle to the one used in the current system, in which one party – the pharmaceutical company – makes almost all of the decisions, provides all of the financing and offers no transparency about the costs. I don’t want to point a finger at the pharmaceutical company, because they also do a lot of good. But I don’t think we can just stay on the sidelines and offer criticism. We have to take responsibility; roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. That applies to me, the patient, the doctor, the hospital, the government, the health insurer and the social funds. Everyone has to work together to develop better and more affordable medications. That is Fair Medicine’s mission.”