WARSAW, Oct 20 (APM) - Parents in Poland refused to vaccinate 25,300 children in the first half of 2017, which was a 10% increase over the whole of 2016, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA1 & pA6) on Tuesday.
Professor Andrzej Zielinski, a former national epidemiology consultant, said that once the percentage of vaccinated population drops from the current 95% to 80-85%, viruses and bacteria will start spreading dangerously.
Pawel Grzesiowski, a health expert, added that an increase in the number of parents refusing to vaccinate children to 100,000 per year will create a risk of an epidemic in the forthcoming years.
Most parents refusing to vaccinate their children either do not believe in their efficacy, or are concerned about potential complications. According to the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, 2,111 complications were reported in 2016, but only 3-6 cases per year are really serious and require hospitalisation.
The state has no other tools for enforcing vaccinations than fining parents. However, of 4,081 parents investigated for refusing to vaccinate their children in 2016, only eight were fined up to 1,500 zlotys (355 euros) or ended up in court.
Meanwhile, anti-vaccination organisations are gaining support among some politicians and doctors.
The officials are now working on new regulations to enable the state to respond quickly to epidemics. They are also planning to set up a special compensation fund from which victims of vaccination complications could be paid up to 70,000 zlotys (16,549 euros).
Debate on assessing the efficacy of new cancer therapies
Health experts debated on the subject of assessing the efficacy of new cancer therapies based on a selection of clinical endpoints, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA15) on Tuesday.
Anna Kordecka, the co-author of the HTA Registry and HTA Audit report on this matter, said the topic has been discussed for a while now and is very difficult. While the desired clinical endpoints include the life expectancy of patients and the quality of life indicator, it is usually impossible to gather all the necessary and conclusive data over the course of clinical trials. This is why the officials use additional criteria, such as the period without progression of the disease.
Professor Wieslaw Jedrzejczak, the national consultant for haematology, said cancer is becoming a chronic disease and patients undergo several therapies at once, which makes it very difficult to assess the individual effects of a therapy that is being tested. Consequently, increasingly more drugs are being registered on the basis of additional, secondary criteria, without checking whether their use actually gives better life expectancy.
Gabriela Ofierska-Sujkowska from the HTA Agency added that this creates the situation where patients do not understand why newly registered, potentially more effective drugs are not automatically added to the reimbursement list. She said the officials have to assess numerous criteria that are not immediately clear, such as the safety of new drugs, which is especially important in the case of cancer drugs that can cause serious adverse effects.
Kordecka said access to new cancer drugs in Poland is much worse than in other EU countries, which arises from the fact that Poland does not employ risk-sharing schemes to their full potential.
Meanwhile, the national health fund can only finance the most effective therapies, which makes the entire process of launching new, breakthrough therapies much longer than in more developed countries.
Sharp increase in hepatitis A cases
The number of hepatitis A cases in Poland rapidly increased from 35 in 2016 to 1,685 in nine months of 2017, which is creating vaccine shortages for pharmacies and wholesalers, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p1) on Wednesday.
Pawel Trzcinski from the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspectorate confirmed that GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, the suppliers of hepatitis A vaccines to the Polish market, are unable to cover the increased demand because the production cycle for the antibodies in the vaccine lasts 24 months. Only hepatitis A vaccines for children and combined hepatitis A and B vaccines are widely available to patients. While Sanofi claims it is able to double the volume of its deliveries, there is a risk that it will not cover all needs.
Meanwhile, the additional vaccines will not be available in vaccination points and pharmacies until mid-November.
GLG Pharma to start breast cancer drug trials shortly
GLG Pharma has signed an agreement with IQ Pharma, for organising trials of its triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) drug, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p3) on Wednesday.
IQ Pharma will run Phase I and Phase II for the drug, including establishing the optimal dose and assessing its efficacy, which should be completed by the end of 2018.
Its chief executive Piotr Sobis claims the trials of the new drug will be much less risky than in the case of innovative products, as its active ingredient has already been tested in other indications and proved to be safe. This also means that the trials will be shorter and less expensive, especially since they will be run by an experienced partner.
Simultaneously, the company is running pre-clinical trials for the same drug, but in the form of intravenous therapy, in cooperation with the Institute of Industrial Organic Chemistry, which should further accelerate the collection of all the necessary data.
HTA agency searches for new president
The ministry of health is looking for a new president for the Health Technology Assessment agency, following the resignation of its former president, Wojciech Matusewicz, for health reasons, reported Rzeczpospolita (pC5) on Tuesday.
NanoGroup to float on Warsaw stock market
Polish biotech, NanoGroup, is preparing for its debut on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy on Saturday (p1 & p4) and Tuesday (p1 & p4), and Puls Biznesu (p9) on Tuesday.
NanoGroup, consisting of three companies, NanoVelos, NanoSanguis and NanoThea, is working on several innovative projects, including a system for delivering active ingredients directly to cancer cells, based on special particles and a fluid mimicking red blood cells, reported both newspapers on Tuesday.
Marek Borzestowski, NanoGroup’s chief executive, said Poland could soon become the regional biotech hub and the company wants to use the money from the share issue, estimated at around 45 million zlotys (10.6 million euros), to continue its current projects and reach the pre-clinical trials stage, reported both newspapers on Tuesday.