Press review

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Battle against drug exports intensifying in Poland

WARSAW, 14 Sept (APM) - Poland's Minister of Justice has announced the second amendment to the revision of the Pharmaceutical Law in which he wants illegal activities with medicines to be punishable with imprisonment, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pB5) on Thursday.
The latest version of the revision to the Pharmaceutical Law states that anyone who illegally buys, sells, imports, exports stores or produces an advanced therapy medicinal product will be subject to imprisonment for between three months and five years. If this happens with medicines that are at risk of a lack of availability to patients, the penalty can be increased to 10 years.
The Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, hopes this will put an end to the illegal exports of medicines because all the law enforcement agencies, which were previously helpless, will be involved in helping the pharmaceutical inspectorates put a stop to illegal exports.
Meanwhile, as the Pharmaceutical Law is being revised by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice, the officials have decided to modify a further provision so as to be able to use drugs with minor defects, if this is better for the patient than not taking the drug at all. This is supposed to rectify the situation of a shortage of medicines on the market and a lack of alternatives, while medicines reaching the end of their shelf lives need to be destroyed.
A recent example was given of vaccines nearing the end of their shelf lives. Although a decision had been made to withdraw them from the market, they were administered to patients as they were known to be safe. While such action has been illegal to date, the revised Pharmaceutical Law is expected to allow such conduct in the future.

Anti-vaccination activists file bill with government

The Polish government could start work next week on a civic bill removing the vaccination obligation, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p3) on Saturday
A total of 120,000 people signed the bill, prepared by the STOP-NOP anti-vaccination association, which claims that more vaccinations mean more diseases, despite the lack of scientific evidence of this. The association advises parents on how not to vaccinate their children and offers them legal advice if they are fined for lack of vaccination.
STOP-NOP argues that complications from vaccinations are understated because of the failure to report all cases of complications, even though doctors are fined for not filing such reports within 24 hours. It also claims that 20 European countries have no vaccination obligation, while others have a low rate of vaccination and none of these have any epidemics.
However, Europe experienced 5,000 cases of measles in 2016, which rose to 41,000 in the first half of 2018, causing at least 37 deaths. The number of parents not vaccinating their children in Poland has increased from 3,000 in 2008 to 30,000 in 2017.

Ministry of Health announces home delivery of medicines as soon as possible

The government is planning to enable disabled people to order medicines online, so that a pharmacist or courier will be able to deliver them to their homes, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA13) on Tuesday.
Pharmacists are concerned that they often run sole proprietorships and will be unable to leave the pharmacy to make deliveries. Meanwhile, couriers cannot guarantee appropriate temperature and sunlight conditions for deliveries, while a number of medications taken by the disabled are on the list of drugs threatened with illegal exports. Simultaneously, patient organisations claim the disabled will not be able to afford to pay for delivery which means this idea will probably be unsuccessful.

Pharmacy chains are looking for alternative ways to expand

Since the pharmacy-for-the-pharmacist law came into effect a year ago, pharmacy chains have been looking for ways to expand, reports Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pC6-C9) on Friday.
Pharmacy chains initially tried to indirectly acquire shares in other companies, although this was found to be in breach of the law. Since then, pharmacy chains have been expanding through franchising, although even this is controversial and may be found to be in conflict with the interpretation of the law in the future, resulting in the withdrawal of pharmacy licences.
Given that pharmacy chains cannot expand, the number of pharmacies has started to decline from 14,842 in 2017 to 14,573 in 2018. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical market has been growing steadily from 30.7 bn zlotys (€7.1 billion) in 2016 to 31.9 bn (€7.4 billion) zlotys in 2017 and a forecast 34 bn zlotys (€7.9 billion) in 2018.
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