WARSAW, 27 Apr (APM) - Marek Kuchcinski, the Speaker of Poland's lower house of Parliament, the Sejm, has registered a committee to collect signatures with the aim of making vaccinations voluntary, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA6) on Tuesday.
The committee will have three months to collect 100,000 signatures under the bill, which is required for the Polish Sejm to vote on the new regulations.
According to the bill, vaccinations would no longer be obligatory, unless the officials announce an epidemic risk alert or a state of epidemic. Additionally, the regulations would enable patients or their legal representatives to file complication reports directly with the local sanitary inspectorates and have more influence over the vaccination schedule, while doctors would be obliged to give parents a written disclaimer on all potential complications that could arise from vaccinations and hold a detailed interview with patients afterwards.
Epidemiologists are criticising the initiative, arguing that this could lead to the spread of infectious diseases just as in other countries, such as Italy, Greece or Romania, where the percentage of vaccinated children has been declining.
Despite very strict regulations in Poland, the number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children is increasing, with around 30,000 such cases in 2017.
Courts becoming increasingly intolerant of parents avoiding vaccinations
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that not only parents refusing to vaccinate their children may be subject to fines, but also those who avoid preliminary examinations qualifying children for vaccinations, reports Rzeczpospolita (pA1 & p15) on Friday.
The court held that parents must fulfil their statutory obligation and vaccinate their children, which includes having them examined before the vaccination. Those failing or refusing to do so may receive an enforcement order.
Marek Posobnik, the Chief Sanitary Inspector, said this court’s ruling is very important and parents refusing to vaccinate their children put not only them at risk, but also others, especially those with poor immune systems, such as cancer patients.
The number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children increased from 3,427 in 2010 to 30,089 in 2017.
Crohn’s disease patients waiting for access to new treatment
Inflammatory bowel disease patient organisations claim access to modern and the most effective Crohn’s disease treatment in Poland is restricted and does not match European standards, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA13) on Thursday.
Patients are waiting for access to a new biological treatment with ustekinumab, which prevents the development of the disease, enables patients to avoid surgery, is well tolerated and does not require hospitalisation.
Approximately 50,000 Poles suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, of whom 25% have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
NanoGroup to work on treatment for Crohn’s disease
NanoGroup, in cooperation with the Spanish Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz (FJD), will work on a therapy based on stem cells and polymers for use in Crohn’s disease to improve fistula healing, reports Puls Biznesu (p8) on Friday.
The Spanish hospital already uses stem cell therapy in 100 cases a year with an efficacy rate of 50%, but the objective is to improve this to 70% by combining stem cells with various polymers supplied by NanoGroup.
NanoGroup intends to finance its research with the help of grants and investors, and estimates that it will need 10 million zlotys (€2.4 million) and two years to reach the stage when the product could be commercialised. However, much will depend on whether the company decides to register it as a drug or a medical device.
Pharmacists refusing to split packets of drugs
Pharmacists say they will no longer split packets of drugs, as they are afraid that the national health fund (NHF) could question this practice and refuse to reimburse the drugs, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pB6) on Tuesday.
The problem arises from a regulation on prescriptions published on 13 April by the Ministry of Health (MoH), which no longer mentions the ability of pharmacists to split packets of drugs. While the MoH issued an additional statement confirming that it is still admissible to split packets of drugs, pharmacists claim that, until the regulations are amended, they will not risk having their prescriptions questioned by the NHF.
Pharmacists used to split packets of drugs if the prescriptions specified a smaller number of doses than the whole packet available at the given pharmacy. This was a convenient solution for patients and applied primarily to antibiotics, parenteral drugs, as well as some psychotropic and narcotic drugs.
Biomed-Lublin to establish new plant
Biomed-Lublin intends to invest 150 million zlotys (€35.6 million) by 2022 and establish a new plant to increase the production capacity for its key products, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p7) and Puls Biznesu (p4) on Wednesday.
Biomed intends to focus on its three key products, the Onko BCG bladder cancer drug, the BCG tuberculosis vaccine and Distreptaza suppositories used in chronic adnexitis, as, according to the management, they have the biggest growth potential and will generate the highest margins, reported both newspapers.
The new plant will increase Biomed’s Onko BCG production capacity by 440%, the BCG vaccine capacity by 230% and the Distreptaza capacity by 130%. Most of the drugs produced at the plant will be exported. Biomed’s exports represented 36% of total sales in 2017. The company hopes to obtain up to 60% of the investment funding for the plant from EU grants, reported both newspapers.
Biomed believes its new plant could help it achieve revenues of 100 million zlotys (€23.7 million) by 2024, compared with 31.2 million zlotys in 2017, reported both newspapers.