WARSAW, Oct 27 (APM) - According to the November reimbursement list, the prices of many post-transplant drugs for children and adults will increase again in Poland, reported Rzeczpospolita (pC5) on Wednesday.
The Valcyte suspension, which is administered to young children and does not have an equivalent, used to cost 316 zlotys (74 euros) per monthly treatment until May, but the therapy may now be as expensive as 2,000 zlotys (471 euros) per month.
The price of Valcyte pills, which had been a fixed lump sum of 3.2 zlotys (0.8 euros) until April, reached 2,427 zlotys (571 euros) in September, which means that most patients were forced to switch to equivalents, with no guarantee that they would tolerate them.
The prices of CellCept and Ceglar also increased, respectively, from 54 zlotys (13 euros) to 77 zlotys (18 euros) and from 3.2 zlotys (0.8 euros) to 287 zlotys (68 euros).
Many patients waiting for kidney transplants are considering continuing dialysis, instead of getting transplants, because they cannot afford further treatment. Professor Tomasz Grodzki, a transplantologist and parliamentarian from the PO (Civic Platform) party, claims the decisions of the ministry of health (MoH) are difficult to understand, especially since they affect children, of whom only 150 a year undergo transplant procedures.
He added that the MoH’s claims that switching to equivalents is perfectly safe are simply untrue and could, in fact, result in complications or even transplant rejection.
The MoH has not issued any additional statements on this matter to date.
Health minister believes in conscience clause
Konstanty Radziwill, the health minister, supports pharmacists who refuse to sell contraceptives because of the conscience clause and says it is their constitutional right, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p5) on Monday.
Despite previous statements that the ministry of health will not be officially introducing the conscience clause, Radziwill recently supported the claims of a group of pharmacists in a letter to Adam Bodnar, the Polish Ombudsman. The health minister said pharmacists have a constitutional right to their own beliefs and should not be forced to act against them.
Professor Agnieszka Grzelak from the Polish Ombudsman’s office said the current interpretation is inconclusive and patients are left on their own whenever pharmacists refuse to accept prescriptions for contraceptives. This claim is supported by Jaroslaw Jaruga from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, who adds that the officials must draw the line between the personal beliefs of pharmacists and the well-being of patients.
The Polish pharmaceutical chamber doubts that Radziwill’s statement will result in more pharmacists being encouraged to refuse to sell contraceptives. Furthermore, Poland’s largest pharmacy chain, Dbam o Zdrowie, warned its employees in September that the application of the conscience clause in such cases constitutes a breach of the regulations.
Medical cannabis will soon be available in pharmacies
Although medical cannabis is to become available in pharmacies on October 31, it will be prescription-only and not reimbursed, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p1) on Thursday.
Medical cannabis is currently only available as a bearer prescription medicinal product, which involves a lengthy procedure and benefits only a small group of patients.
Jedrzej Sadowski, one of the authors of the regulations opening access to medical cannabis, said up to 300,000 patients in Poland could be interested in the new therapy, including those suffering from multiple sclerosis, drug-resistant epilepsy and neuropathic or cancer pain. Medical cannabis could also be useful for treating Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, anorexia, AIDS and Tourette’s, which increases the number of potential patients to a million.
Jerzy Jarosz, a pain treatment specialist, says that, while medical cannabis will finally be sold legally in Poland, the supply of the product will certainly be lower than demand, because the officials did not agree to cultivating cannabis in Poland.
This means that it will probably be imported from the Netherlands, which limits the amount of cannabis sold abroad. Additionally, pharmacists will be required to prepare the drugs themselves based on detailed prescriptions, while very few doctors have sufficient experience to properly specify the composition, form and dosage to individual needs.
Sadowski proposes amending the current regulations, to allow cultivation of medical cannabis in Poland and so its manufacturers can use cannabis seized from narcotics dealers.
Patients encountering difficulties in buying medical cannabis in Polish pharmacies because of shortages will be allowed to buy it on monthly prescriptions from other EU member states and transport the drugs to Poland.
Celon Pharma working on type II diabetes treatment
Celon Pharma received a 24.8 million zloty (5.8 million euros) grant from the national centre for research and development to work on type II diabetes treatment, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p5) on Tuesday.
The project applies to the pre-clinical and clinical development of an innovative GPR40 receptor agonist for use in type II diabetes treatment.
The total project cost is estimated at 39.4 million zlotys (9.3 million euros) and the company is supposed to complete it by 2022.
Celon Pharma is currently establishing its own, 80 million zloty (18.8 million euros) R&D centre in Kazun Nowy, which should be ready in 2019.
NanoGroup to start trials in 2019
Wednesday’s Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p6) published an interview with Marek Borzestowski, the CEO of the NanoGroup biotech, which is to debut on the NewConnect alternative stock exchange.
Borzestowski said NanoGroup should be completing its pre-clinical trials and signing the first partnership agreements with bigger players in 2019. It should also be ready to start at least several clinical trials by the end of 2019, ideally in cooperation with large pharmas, and should start filing registration applications with the EU and U.S. regulators.
NanoGroup hopes to sign several licensing agreements to combine its nanoparticles with generic and originator drugs to improve the efficacy of treatments or reduce their toxicity.
The 12 million zlotys (2.8 million euros) obtained from its stock market debut is to be used to acquire such companies as Pure Biologics and GeneaMed in order to achieve greater synergy in developing various cancer treatments.