WARSAW, 7 Sept (APM) - Poland's health ministry representatives, experts and representatives of patients discussed how to more effectively treat and care for patients with rare diseases at the latest economic forum in Krynica, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA32) on Thursday.
Deputy health minister Marcin Czech confirmed that the country’s drug policy has been completed and is now with the standing committee of the council of ministers. It contains a section on rare and ultra-rare diseases and treatment with orphan drugs. The ministry is currently trying to develop an approach to simultaneous price negotiations on various markets.
Deputy health minister Zbigniew Krol said an important element of the National Plan for Rare Diseases will be medications and the negotiations on these will be heading in the direction of being able to afford to pay for them.
Meanwhile, the representatives of patients complained that although a drug for treating spinal muscular atrophy was registered in May 2017 and assessed by the HTA agency, negotiations are still being held for the drug, so by the time it becomes available, children diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) could die unless they relocate to another country.
Jakub Gierzynski, a health service expert, stated that if it is not possible to fully solve a problem, the drugs are introduced into drug programmes.
Czech concluded with the hope that all EU countries will ultimately be able to pay however much they can afford for orphan drugs. This would allow patients to receive faster treatment.
Economic forum agrees pharma industry needs investment incentives in Poland
The economic forum agreed that a programme of rewarding pharma for helping expand the Polish economy is needed, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA27) on Friday.
Poland is facing a demographic challenge of an ageing population, which means a high level of spending on healthcare requiring GDP growth to obtain the additional funding. The pharma industry is a major contributor to the country’s economic growth, accounting for 1.3% of Poland’s economic output.
However, it is currently experiencing investment barriers, such as rising costs with simultaneous pressure to reduce prices. Therefore, as one of the most important high-tech sectors of the Polish economy, the Polish pharma industry wants tax relief and incentives for research and development work.
Mother sues health centre for refusing to administer medical cannabis
A mother of a four-year-old girl, who died before she could be treated with medical cannabis, is suing a health centre and doctor for not treating her daughter in accordance with current medical knowledge, reported Gazeta Prawna (pB10) on Tuesday.
One doctor recommended the administration of medical cannabis and embarked on the route of personal importation of prescription drugs. However, he was dismissed from work by the time he completed this process and the next doctor refused to treat the girl with medical cannabis.
This example demonstrates the difficulty of obtaining not only medical cannabis, but also orphan drugs, despite being legal. This case could become a precedent for further action from patients in the future.
Medical cannabis set to arrive in pharmacies
Although it has been legal to buy medical cannabis for a year, this was impossible in practice, although the situation may change shortly, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA4) on Wednesday and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA3) on Thursday.
Although a law was passed in Poland allowing for sales of medical cannabis, it also introduced restrictions, such as the specification of the quantity of active ingredient and repeatability of production, which Polish companies have been unable to meet. Consequently, despite the objective of the law being to improve access, it has resulted in individual imports of expensive medical cannabis from the Netherlands, which the Ministry of Health frequently refuses to reimburse, reported both newspapers.
While it is theoretically possible to establish plantations in Poland, Jedrzej Sadowski from the Medical Cannabis Coalition said the government believes the cost of supervising plantations would outweigh the potential benefits, reported Rzeczpospolita.
Deputy Health Minister Maciej Milkowski said that, up to the end of June, the registration office had received four applications from companies for importing raw materials for the production of medications from medical cannabis. These would be used, for instance, for treating children with drug-resistant epilepsy or oncological diseases, reported Rzeczpospolita.
Tomasz Witkowski, Country Manager of Spectrum Cannabis, declared that his company has submitted documentation to the registration office in order to start producing dried cannabis. The company also intends to sell the product as capsules and oils, but has decided to move forward in stages. The company hopes registration will only last until mid-September, after which it will be able to sell medical cannabis to pharmacies reported both newspapers.
49% of patients with RA have never told of modern treatment methods
Patients are not being informed by doctors of methods of treating rheumatoid arthritis, reports Gazeta Wyborcza (p2 Tylko Zdrowie supplement) on Friday.
28% of rheumatoid arthritis patients are treated with glucocorticoids, of whom 40% have been receiving such treatment for over five years. 1-2% of patients are treated with biological medications, in conflict with European and global standards.
However, doctors rarely have the time to discuss changing the diet and the lifestyle with patients, which is also a very important factor in treating this disease.