Press review

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Italian regions disappointed by health minister’s funding, pharma payback proposals

MILAN, 19 Oct (APM) - Italian regions have been disappointed by health minister Giulia Grillo’s proposals for health funding and a solution to the pharma payback impasse, according to Friday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The head of the regional government association, Stefano Bonaccini, made clear that a meeting on Thursday had not lived up to expectations.
“We were not satisfied with the meeting with minister Grillo. We had read that the health ministry, for the first time, was going to increase resources above what had been projected. Instead the figure stated for 2019 is exactly the same as decided last year,” he said.
Bonaccini said his call for an emergency meeting has been accepted and he hopes officials from the finance ministry will join it. There are only two or three days left before the government’s budget plan is due to be completed.
Grillo has promised a €1 billion increase in health funding rather than the €3 billion the regions say is essential. They are concerned about where €1 billion of funding to pay for drugs recognised as innovative will come from, Il Sole 24 Ore said.
The regions are also worried about outstanding payback to cover drugs overspending between 2013-2015. “The government has estimated (recovering) €500 million which, compared to our calculations of €1.5 billion, is only a third of what we expected. But we do not want to cause an argument about this, we prefer to go and look at it within a broader discussion with the ministry,” Bonaccini said.

Health minister accused of selling out to pharma

Italy's health minister Giulia Grillo has been accused of selling out to pharma after attending a conference at the senate sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, Il Giornale reported on Sunday
The event, which was called ‘Global Health: Italy, driver of best practice’, was organised by the publisher Formiche and GSK, the paper said. Grillo’s Facebook page was inundated by comments criticising her decision to go to the conference, it added.
Most of the criticism came from supporters of her party, the Five Star Movement. One suggested that she is not paid to host “lobby groups like GSK” at the senate. Another reminded her that she had promised to oust lobbyists from the parliament when she was in opposition.
The paper noted that the criticism came just as GSK inaugurated a €30 million production site near Parma for production of a new HIV drug. It only took just over a year to build. “More jobs, but the Grillini (Five Star Movement) don’t like it,” the paper said.

Health minister appoints new chief of staff

The health minister Giulia Grillo has appointed a new chief of staff, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.
Guido Carpani has already worked at the environment and public administration departments in the Italian civil service. He was also chief of staff at the health ministry several years ago when Renato Balduzzi was the health minister.
Carpani replaces Alfonso Celotto who resigned from the position in September amid reports of policy differences with minister Grillo (APMHE 59795).

Merck KGaA/Pfizer’s Bavencio reimbursed in Merkel cell carcinoma

Merck KGaA/Pfizer’s Bavencio (avelumab) has been approved for reimbursement in Italy, Adnkronos reported on Tuesday.
The drug is used in monotherapy for adults with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer, the news agency said. Merck and Pfizer announced the reimbursement decision at a meeting in Rome, noting that the immunotherapy is the first and only drug approved for this indication.
Pfizer’s director of oncology in Italy, Alberto Stanzione, described immuno-oncology as a top priority for his company and said alliances with other companies help accelerate R&D in this field. “The goal of this strategy, of which avelumab is a good example, is to offer increasingly effective therapeutic alternatives to patients affected by different types of cancer, some of which are rare without effective treatments,” he said.

Vaccines policy at risk from disjointed regional data collection

Italy’s vaccines policy is being put at risk by disjointed data collection in the regions, according to Sunday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The previous government’s mandatory vaccination programme has been relaxed. But the “flexible obligation” for parents to have children vaccinated requires accurate national statistics about coverage for different infectious diseases so that risk areas can be targeted.
The problem is that health services are devolved and each region has its own systems for vaccine registries. The health ministry has started a harmonisation process but it is feared that delays in its completion will undermine the new vaccines policy, the paper said.
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