Press review

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Facebook pushes Italian pharma to advertise OTC drugs on its network after rule change

MILAN, 12 Oct (APM) - Italian pharma is by being targeted by Facebook, which is looking to have companies start advertising over-the-counter drugs on its network, according to Saturday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The paper said the social media group has highlighted new rules which came into force in Italy last week allowing companies to advertise non-prescription products and medical devices on the web.
It has commissioned a multimedia campaign by the Armando Testa agency aimed at decision-makers in pharmaceutical companies. They are said to have already been targeted with messages through Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn about the new possibilities.
According to Il Sole 24 Ore, around €357 million was spent on advertising pharma and healthcare products in Italy in 2017, 3.7% more than a year earlier. This is a market that Facebook and Google (with YouTube) are said to be very interested in. The guidelines for online advertising were drawn up by the health ministry, which consulted with Facebook, the paper added.
However, there will be some restrictions on promotions on social networks. Pharmaceutical companies will have to send copies of proposed advertising to the health ministry to be checked before publication. Interaction functionality will be limited so user comments and “likes” cannot be made, although users will be allowed to share and follow pages, the paper said.

Farmindustria chief backs pharma payments disclosure

The head of Italian pharma lobby Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, has voiced support for pharma payments disclosure in a parliamentary hearing, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.
He was addressing a meeting of the social affairs committee in the chamber of deputies. A law has been drafted to require companies in Italy to publish all information about payments made to health operators and medical professionals.
Scaccabarozzi said Italian pharma already has one of the most rigorous ethical codes in Europe. He described the proposed legislation as introducing transparency in a sector where it is very important. He added that it will clarify regulation and bring Italy into line with other markets such as the U.S.
However, he warned against making the system overly bureaucratic, which could hinder R&D in Italy, the paper said.

Health minister denies she is to step down

Health minister Giulia Grillo denied that she will step down, in an interview with La Verità published on Monday.
There have been persistent rumours that she would be forced out in a cabinet reshuffle. But the minister, who is pregnant, dismissed them as baseless. “I would like to say to all readers: let’s defend the right to be mothers and workers,” she told the paper.
Grillo insisted that the health service will receive €1 billion extra funding in the 2019 budget. She accused the previous government of draining resources and said healthcare in Italy has suffered as a result. Essential levels of care, which are services and treatments which the health service must provide free of charge, are among the priorities.
On vaccines, Grillo stressed that Italy is determined to increase coverage against common infectious diseases such as measles. She said mandatory vaccinations introduced by the previous health minister had created organisational problems, and suggested a more flexible approach is now required.

Budget not addressing health funding needs - think tank

A think tank has accused the Italian government of failing to address the health funding shortfall in its 2019 budget despite its decision to defy the EU and increase Italy’s budget deficit, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Monday.
After many years of health spending cuts aimed at putting public finances in order, the self-declared “government for change” might have been expected to put healthcare at the top of its agenda, Fondazione GIMBE was reported as saying.
Its head, Nino Cartabellotta, has calculated that the government's growth projections for the next three years mean health spending will increase less than GDP. And that does not take into account the increase in prices the health service will have to deal with, he said.

Umbria exploits patent expiries to cut drugs bill by €2.4 million

Umbria has exploited drugs going off patent by holding a special procurement tender which saw it cut the drugs bill by €2.4 million in one go, Quotidiano Sanità reported on Tuesday.
The region’s health assessor, Luca Barberini, said that this was an impromptu decision made after it was realised how much could be saved by having a tender immediately after products lose patent cover. No mention was made of which drugs were part of the operation.
Bareberini insisted that the resources saved will be used by the region to pay for innovative, costly drugs.
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