Press review

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Patient group writes to Italian president to warn about regional procurement of Humira biosimilars

MILAN, 2 Nov (APM) - A rheumatology patients’ association has written to the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, to warn about a regional procurement strategy focused on buying biosimilar adalimumab for serious diseases, La Repubblica reported on Tuesday.
Associazione Nazionale Malati Reumatici Onlus (ANMAR) fears that doctors will be forced to prescribe biosimilars instead of AbbVie’s Humira. Five regions announced this week that putting biosimilars of adalimumab into competition with the originator in a joint procurement process resulted in a 65% reduction in the price (APMHE 60361).
ANMAR’s president, Silvia Tonolo, described it as “a race to the bottom” which will result in the drug with the lowest cost being used for patients in these five major Italian regions. She insisted the patient group has nothing against the use of biosimilars. “However we do not want decisions dictated solely and exclusively by budget issues to be imposed from above,” she told the paper.
Tonolo pointed out in the letter to Mattarella that automatic substitution with biosimilars is not allowed in Italy. She insisted that doctors must be allowed the freedom to prescribe the best treatment and the decision must always be shared with the patient, La Repubblica said.
ANMAR believes it is contrary to Italy’s constitution to force patients to be treated with one drug rather than another.

Sandoz Italia chief becomes country manager of Sandoz Russia

Sandoz Italia’s chief executive, Manilio Florenzano, has become country manager of Sandoz Russia, one of the group’s most important subsidiaries, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
Vivek Devaraj, head of Sandoz in South Africa, will take over from Florenzano in Italy. The Indian-born manager has worked in Novartis since 1995 in variety of roles in Asia, Africa, Europe and the U.S., the paper said.
Florenzano was also coordinator of the Italian Biosimilars Group (IBG) which is part of the generics association AssoGenerici. He will be replaced in that role by Stefano Collatina, head of the hospital products business unit at Baxter Italia, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.

IQVIA chief warns about €3 billion drugs overspend in 2019

IQVIA’s chief executive in Italy, Sergio Liberatore, has warned that overspending of the hospital drugs budget could be more than €3 billion in 2019 unless reforms to the reimbursement system are made, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Monday.
He noted that the government decides the cap on expenditure but it requires pharma to cover 50% of any budget deficits. The hospital drugs budget is forecast to be €2.4 billion overspent this year. "The main issue remains the financing which is clearly insufficient to guarantee the stability of the system,” Liberatore told the paper.
He expressed hopes that ongoing talks will lead to a simplification of governance so that the payback owed by companies can be calculated more easily.
But Liberatore warned that if conditions do not change, IQVIA’s preliminary estimates for 2019 show an even worse situation than in 2018. “Even the companies will have a problem of economic sustainability. We have to avoid Italy becoming a less attractive country for multinationals to invest in,” he said.

Italian patients still inclined to pay for branded drug to avoid generic

Italy’s use of generics is continuing to grow but patients still show an inclination to pay for branded products where possible, according to Tuesday’s La Repubblica.
The paper cited a report from the industry association AssoGenerici on the first six months of the year. Around 22% of drugs dispensed in pharmacies were generics in the first half while biosimilars took a 12% share of their market. Generics volumes rose 5.7% mainly as a result of some important drugs going off patent in 2017, the paper said.
However, generics hardly feature in sales of medicines that are not reimbursed in Italy. Only 2.1% of sales in this category were unbranded generics.
Many patients are still ready to pay a higher price to avoid having a branded product substituted with a generic. Around €561 million euros was spent on snubbing generics in the first half. The highest number was in the south of the country with Sicilians forking out €58 million for this purpose.

Health funding of €114.4 billion included in Italy’s budget

Health funding of €114.4 billion has been included in Italy’s budget which was approved this week, according to Wednesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
The finance bill foresees an increase in funding of €3.5 billion between 2020-202. Giulia Grillo, the health minister, has missed out on one of her strategic priorities. A plan to eliminate prescription charges was taken out of the budgetary measures, the paper said.
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