MILAN, Mar 16 (APM) - Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin has claimed that a rise in immunisation coverage in recent months in Italy vindicates her decision to introduce a decree law to make 10 vaccinations mandatory for schoolchildren, Corriere della Sera reported on Thursday.
The national health institute has announced that coverage is now above 95%. However, Lorenzin suggested more needs to be done. “The vaccines decree has had positive results increasing the number of children vaccinated, but in the coming years we will have to think about the adult population as well,” she told a Rome health event.
The outgoing minister also told the conference about what she sees as the priorities for whoever takes over from her in the new government. Waiting lists and boosting local GPs cover are first on her list of things she believes need addressing.
Second, she pointed to the development of new antibiotics and vaccines as an urgent requirement, suggesting that public/private partnerships will be needed.
She also advised her successor to boost investment in research and innovation. “The third big challenge will be the application of innovation in healthcare, including new medical devices and drugs, as long as these do not interfere with the human relationship between doctor and patient,” she said.
EU credibility at risk over way new EMA location chosen
The European Union’s credibility has been put at risk by the way the new location for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was chosen, according to Monday’s Corriere della Sera.
The paper predicted that both the environmental, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee and the European parliament as whole would back the Commission’s choice of new home.
But it said that would not be enough to remove doubts about the procedures used.
According to Corriere della Sera, widespread concern could help Milan’s legal battle against the relocation decision. It might even galvanise a new Italian government, if it can be formed quickly enough, into a more assertive response than the outgoing administration had managed, the paper suggested.
U.S. cancer drug prices more than double in 10 years
U.S. cancer drug prices have more than doubled over 10 years and patients are finding it increasingly difficult to afford them, Corriere della Sera reported on Sunday.
The head of Italian patients’ group FAVO, Francesco De Lorenzo, told the paper that it is estimated that the costs rose from $4,500 to more than $10,000 a month, although he did not specify over what period. He said annual costs are $120,000, around 20% of which has to be paid for by patients - even those with insurance.
The head of the Italian medical oncology society AIOM, Stefania Gori, noted that, in contrast, Italy reimburses all costs. She also said that medicines agency AIFA drives a hard bargain in reimbursement negotiations so that prices reflect the real effectiveness of therapies.
In addition, Italy has 1 billion euros of funding for innovative drugs, half of which is used to pay for oncology products recognised as innovative. The next challenge will be to improve prevention, with more than 40% of cancer cases said to be avoidable with the right lifestyle and early diagnosis.
Biogen’s Spiranza available in 16 specialist hospitals
Biogen’s Spinraza is available in 16 specialist centres to treat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) after an accelerated approval process by medicines agency AIFA, La Verità reported on Thursday.
The paper said that out of 190 patients eligible for treatment, 135 have been registered to be treated. “The conclusion of the authorisation process for Spinraza in a very short time is a victory for science and for Italy’s regulatory system,” AIFA’s director general, Mario Melazzini, was quoted as saying.
He added that parents of children with the disease finally have a validated treatment, reducing the risk that people will be taken in by fake therapies.
Teva planning to cut Swiss workforce by a fifth
Teva is planning to cut its Swiss workforce by a fifth, according to Adnkronos on Monday.
The news agency noted that tumbling drug prices in the U.S. and the group’s big debt load have created a financial crisis at Teva, which aims to cut 14,000 jobs worldwide. In Switzerland, around 60 people out of a workforce of 300 are expected to leave the company.