Open Access Open Badges Research article

Pharmaco-economic impact of demographic change on pharmaceutical expenses in Germany and France

Wolfgang Boecking*, Anna Klamar, Florian Kitzmann and Wilhelm Kirch

Author Affiliations

Research Association PH S-SA, Dresden, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:894  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-894

Published: 23 October 2012



Most European health care systems are suffering from the impact of demographic change. In short, aging of society is leading to higher costs of treatment per capita, while reproduction rates below 2.1 children per woman lead to a reduced number of younger people to provide for the necessary contributions into the health insurance system.

This research paper addresses the questions what impact the demographic development will have on one particular spending area, what are pharmaceutical expenditure in two of Europe’s largest health care systems, Germany and France, and what the implications are for pharmaceutical companies.


The research is based on publicly available data from German and French health ministries, the OECD, and institutes which focus on projection of demographic development in those countries. In a first step, data was clustered into age groups, and average spending on pharmaceuticals was allocated to that. In the second step, these figures were extrapolated, based on the projected change in the demographic structure of the countries from 2004 until 2050. This leads to a deeper understanding of demand for pharmaceutical products in the future due to the demographic development as a single driving factor.


Pharmaceutical expenses per head (patient) will grow only slightly until 2050 (0.5% p.a. in both countries).

Demographic change alone only provides for a slowly growing market for pharmaceutical companies both in Germany and in France, but for a relevant change in the consumption mix of pharmaceutical products, based on a shift of relevance of different age groups.


Despite demographic changes pharmaceutical expenses per head (patient) and the overall pharmaceutical markets will grow only slightly until 2050 in Germany as well as in France. Nevertheless, the aging of society implies different challenges for pharmaceutical companies and also for the health care system. Companies have to cope with the shift of relevance of different age groups and within the health care system new options for financing the slowly growing expenses have to be found.

Pharmaceutical expenses; Demographic changes; Health care systems; Germany; France