MILAN, 21 Sep (APM) - Italian health minister Giulia Grillo is working towards having increased health funding included in the budget which is being prepared by the finance minister, she told Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Thursday.
“We are starting with €115 billion of health funding but I am working on obtaining more. I am sure there is room for more resources. I don’t like giving figures and I am not going to say how much more we are looking for,” she said.
The paper questioned how likely it is this will be conceded given that the health minister’s Five Star Movement does not have the best of relations with finance minister Giovanni Tria. But she insisted that the importance of the health service will be recognised. She also said she has already had talks with Tria, as well as with prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
Grillo is looking to abolish patient charges, including drug prescription charges, and intends to fund this by cutting drug spending. “There is a lot of room to make savings on pharmaceuticals,” she told the paper.
She insisted this was a programme that was started some time ago. “It does not mean war with Big Pharma. The problem has been that hospital drugs spending has not been managed well,” she added.
AIFA to be ordered to renegotiate prices of biggest-selling drugs
Health minister Grillo is planning to launch a renegotiation of the reimbursement prices of some of the most used drugs, beginning with HCV therapies, Corriere della Sera reported on Wednesday.
She is trying to generate resources to cover the funding gap which will be created if patient charges are abolished, the paper said.
It will be one of the first jobs for the new director general of AIFA Luca Li Bassi to launch the process and rationalise drug spending to make it more efficient, the paper added.
Former minister calls on government to defend vaccines policy
The former health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, has called on the government to defend the mandatory vaccines policy introduced when she was in office in an interview published by Quotidiano Sanità on Monday.
She criticised measures which have allowed parents to sign ‘certificates’ saying their children have been vaccinated rather than requiring them to have medical certificates. “There will be a lot of confusion at school and for, those children that have health problems who need to be kept safe, unfortunately there will be a lot of difficulties,” she told the online publication.
Lorenzin insisted mandatory vaccinations are required to create herd immunity and ensure that vulnerable children who cannot be vaccinated are not exposed to infectious diseases at school. She suggested the government needs to have the courage to take unpopular decisions in the interest of public health.
She said the idea that people should be free to choose whether or not to be vaccinated is misguided. “What has happened with vaccinations is that are being considered as if they are a therapy when they should be seen as a means of prevention. The only way to eradicate some diseases is to vaccinate the whole population,” she said.
New AIFA chief assessed
An editorial in Quotidiano Sanità on Monday assessed the new head of Italian medicines agency AIFA.
It suggested that the first reaction to the announcement that Luca Li Bassi was to be appointed was: “Luca who?”. However, it also noted that it was a deliberate strategy by the health minister to look outside Italy to ensure transparency and an independent appointment.
Quotidiano Sanità noted that you cannot go much further than New Zealand, where Li Bassi previously worked at pharma regulator Pharmac. On the other hand, the online publication also revealed that the new chief had worked at AIFA and had a position in the foreign ministry at the time when Silvio Berlusconi headed the government in Italy.
It decided on balance that this could be a good appointment and wished Li Bassi well in his new role.
AstraZeneca Italy appoints new respiratory head
AstraZeneca Italy has appointed a new head at its respiratory, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases area, About Pharma reported on Monday.
Chiara Cargiulo previously worked for AbbVie in Italy, most recently as manager of the rheumatology business unit. She was responsible for new product launches and market access strategy.
Cargiulio started in her new role just in time to attend the annual congress of the European Respiratory Society in Paris. She said AstraZeneca would be presenting new studies and treatments at the event.