WARSAW, Jan 26 (APM) - Excessive bureaucracy means patients in Poland who need life-saving drugs that are not reimbursed by the state, but are financed by various foundations, cannot receive treatment immediately, reports Rzeczpospolita (pA12) on Friday.
According to the regulations, the state may finance drugs that are non-reimbursable or not registered in Poland, but are absolutely necessary for patients to survive, provided the official request filed by their doctors is accepted by the regional consultant and the health minister. The same steps must be followed, even if the patient obtains funding for the treatment from a foundation, which often leads to potentially disastrous delays in treatment.
Furthermore, doctors are generally reluctant to file the applications for life-saving therapies, as they are extremely expensive and hospitals are concerned that they could have difficulty reclaiming their full cost from the national health fund, as the procedures are unclear.
The Ministry of Health claims that, since the regulations took effect on July 23, 2017, the officials have received 251 applications for life-saving therapies, while there have been no signs of doctors refusing to file them on behalf of their patients.
Sales of antidepressants soaring
According to IQVIA, sales of antidepressants are soaring with 5% annual growth since 2015, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA1, A3 & A4) on Tuesday.
Poles spent 346.2 million zlotys (83.4 million euros) on 21.2 million packets of antidepressants in 2017 and, according to professor Piotr Galecki, the national psychiatry consultant, many patients take such drugs as they are more affordable than psychotherapy.
While Galecki claims the number of patients suffering from depression is rising, the former health minister and psychiatrist, Marek Balicki, believes the increased consumption of such medicines is mainly due to increasing awareness among Poles.
While there is no official data on the prevalence of depression in Poland, Poland is in ninth place in the EU in terms of the number of suicides, after such countries as Hungary and Baltics.
Slawomir Murawiec from the Polish Association of Psychiatry said the rapid increase in antidepressant consumption over the last 20 years is not necessarily directly tied to the number of patients suffering from depression, as such medicines are used in around 40 indications, including anxiety disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.
Experts say reforms are needed in Polish psychiatry, as the resources available for proper treatment are limited, while the number of specialists is extremely low, with just 90 psychiatrists per million Poles.
Greater access needed to the most effective kidney cancer drugs
Health experts recently debated on the current state of kidney cancer treatment in Poland and ways to improve it, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA12-A13) on Thursday.
Professor Piotr Wysocki, president of the Polish Society of Clinical Oncology, mentioned that, when the second line of metastatic kidney cancer therapy is no longer effective, Polish patients have no alternative reimbursable treatments. Jadwiga Czeczot from the HTA Agency said the kidney cancer drug programme is targeted at the clear cell type of the disease, which reduces the number of patients that qualify for treatment.
Jakub Zolnierek from the Maria Sklodowska-Curie oncology centre added that the introduction of new generation molecular drugs to clinical trials was a real breakthrough and helped double or even triple the survival time of patients, even though such therapies should be classified as palliative care, because they do not usually result in remission.
Wojciech Poborski from the Oncology Centre in Katowice said that, while the average survival time of kidney cancer patients has increased from 10 to 48 months over the past decade, these results could be further improved by opening access to modern drugs, such as cabozantinib and nivolumab.
Selvita confirms capital raising move
Polish biotech Selvita intends to issue 2.2 million shares for up to 140 million zlotys (33.7 million euros) to pursue its development strategy for 2017-2021, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p7) on Tuesday.
The company’s primary objective is to finance the early stages of development of its innovative oncology drugs and commercialise them when they reach more advanced stages.
Pawel Przewiezlikowski, Selvita’s CEO and largest shareholder, believes profits from selling the rights to one of the company’s molecules, SEL120, will be much higher than in the case of SEL24, as the transaction will take place no earlier than after the initial assessment of phase IIa.
Pure Biologics will debut on NewConnect
Polish biotech Pure Biologics intends to debut on the parallel market, NewConnect, in the first of the year to obtain 20 million zlotys (4.8 million euros), reports Puls Biznesu (p5) on Friday.
Pure Biologics focuses on two key areas, therapeutics and diagnostics. It claims it has strengths in developing antibodies and aptamers, which is why it can quickly develop active ingredients used in drugs.
Filip Jelen, the company’s CEO, said Pure Biologics is equipped with technologically advanced development platforms, resulting in lower operational risk, as it is able to create numerous new particles in a relatively short time and not rely entirely on just one project.
The company has no molecules in clinical trials yet, but it has already received a dozen or so million zlotys from grants for its projects.