MILAN, 10 Aug (APM) - Italy must invest in AIFA and develop strategic links with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) if it wants to have an important role in international drugs regulation, the EMA’s executive director Guido Rasi told Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Tuesday.
He suggested that the failure of Milan’s bid to host the EMA does not mean the country should take a back seat. On the other hand, he also stressed that the Italian agency does not yet have a position of much influence.
“Currently AIFA with its 450 employees is too small and not connected enough to the European network. Governments of influential countries regularly consult EMA on spending and investment planning and to receive guidance on which expert profiles are most effective for their strategies,” he told the paper.
Rasi argued that strong links with the European regulator are necessary to be able to plan health expenditure effectively for the arrival of new treatments. ”Traditionally, seven to eight countries send influential experts to the EMA committees, supported by appropriate teams in the national agencies. The level of influence is proportional to the quality of the experts. Every scientifically solid opinion is heard,” he said.
According to Rasi, the different socioeconomic characteristics of each country mean that the local context must be taken into consideration in the process of evaluating the cost-benefit of an innovative therapy.
He concluded by stressing that Italy can and must count more in European medicines regulation, not least because scientific contributions from member states are “generously remunerated by the EMA”.
AIFA chief selection process not clear - former health ministry official
A former health ministry official expressed concern about the process being used to choose a new director general of medicines agency AIFA in a letter to Quotidiano Sanità which was published on Saturday.
Bruno Campione, who used to be a medical director in the department, said he was less worried about the candidates than who will make the decision about who becomes the new chief of the regulator.
He described the new government’s approach as “paradoxical”. On the one hand, it is demanding transparency and a new morality. On the other, it is urging the private sector to participate in all areas of research, development and innovation.
Campione said choosing a new AIFA chief should be relatively simple within the existing rules. He wondered why a public recruitment process is being used.
“At this point it would seem more logical to worry not so much about the candidates, but about the invisible recruiters who will have to assess the candidates for the role of director general,” he said.
Sicily has second highest patient spending to avoid generics
Sicily has the second highest out-of-pocket spending by patients to avoid generic substitution, according to Tuesday’s Quotidiano di Sicilia.
The paper cited a report by the health economics consultancy Gimbe as showing that per-capita spending in Lazio on the difference in price between a branded drug and the generic reference price was €22.90. In Sicily it was €22.10, followed by €21.20 in Calabria, €21.20 in Basilicata and €20.90 in Campania.
One of the suggestions of the Gimbe report was that efforts should be made to increase the use of generic drugs and reduce out-of-pocket spending, the paper noted.
Help desk to open for elderly to manage prescription drugs better
A help desk is to open in Turin this autumn to help the elderly to manage the different prescription drugs they take on a regular basis, according to Saturday’s La Repubblica.
The number of drugs being taken by the over-65s is continuing to increase, but there is little information or awareness about the possible interaction between different therapies and their side effects, the paper said.
The centre, the first of its kind in Italy, will be staffed by GPs but linked into other medical and social services, the paper said. It will open in an area of the city where a quarter of the 20,000 population are over 65. Its services will be available to anyone who takes more than four different tablets a day.
The objectives for the doctors will be to assess the compatibility of the different medicines being taken and the patient’s adherence to each therapy. Although it could generate savings by stopping prescriptions of medicines which are not being taken, this is not the primary aim of the service, the paper said.