MILAN, 14 Dec (APM) - The head of Italy's pharma association Farmindustria has called on the government to look at drugs as an investment rather than only as an expense, according to Wednesday’s Il Sole 24 Ore.
Massimo Scaccabarozzi was speaking at an event organised by the health ministry to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Italy’s national health service. In his address, he highlighted the important contribution made by pharmaceuticals in the health system, helping to prolong lives and reduce mortality rates.
He suggested there is greater awareness of the value of the industry today than before. But then, according to the paper, Scaccabarozzi made an oblique reference to the new policies proposed by the health ministry.
He suggested that having “a prejudiced view” of the industry means its worth will be overlooked. He stressed how the pharmaceutical industry is an anti-cyclical sector which makes a significant contribution to the economy. It has increased production by 24% in recent years and created six thousand new jobs.
He said the government is at a crossroads. “We need to sit down with the decision makers to persuade them that pharmaceuticals are not an expense but an investment,” Scaccabarozzi said.
Generics firms wary of reforms despite biosimilars, generics focus
Generics manufacturers are wary of the pharma reforms despite the decision to focus more on biosimilars and generics, the head of AssoGenerici told Il Sole 24 Ore in an interview published on Tuesday.
Enrique Häusermann acknowledged that the guidelines drawn up by a group of independent experts may widen access to therapies and stimulate competition in the pharma market. But he fears that a reappraisal of which drugs can be reimbursed and the subsequent reallocation of resources will have a negative impact.
“(I hope) it does not diminish the capacity to provide treatments to patients and lead to a race to the bottom which would only result in competition being squeezed,” he told the paper.
Häusermann is also worried about where the savings generated through the new strategy will go. He said AssoGenerici and other stakeholders including health operators have called for the money to be reinvested in pharma funding.
“In the document that was presented (by the health ministry) there is no trace of this and the statements made publicly suggest they are going completely in the opposite direction,” he said.
Too many drugs, too little to tell them apart - expert
Italy reimburses too many drugs which have too few differences between them, according to a pharmacologist, news agency ANSA reported on Monday.
Silvio Garattini, who contributed to the guidelines for the reform process, suggested it is time to exclude those that no longer provide real benefits.
“We cannot continue to have 21 antidepressant drugs in Italy and not know whether one works better than another. It is the same for painkillers and anti-gastritis drugs,” he was reported as saying at the presentation of the guidelines.
Garattini described as “unacceptable” the fact that €280 million is spent on vitamin D. “It does nothing to reduce the numbers of falls and fractures in the elderly,” he said.
AIFA says science underpins interchangeability of biosimilars
AIFA has said that scientific evidence demonstrates that biosimilars are interchangeable with their reference originators, Quotidiano Sanità reported on Wednesday.
“Recent international studies and analysis of pharmacovigilance data on biosimilars have produced results which are in line with the position taken and expressed by AIFA in its second position paper,” the regulator said,
It referred to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine that demonstrated equivalence in safety and efficacy of biosimilar infliximab to the originator.
Extensive analysis of published material also showed that switching from originator biological drugs to their biosimilars resulted in similar outcomes in the same therapeutic indication.
AIFA interpreted this as showing that biosimilars are a valid instrument for providing sustainable access to drugs. It added that its mission of safeguarding public health can also be achieved by providing independent information based on clear scientific data from verifiable sources for the benefit of patients and health operators.
Janssen appoints British manager to new production site chief
Janssen has appointed Britain’s Paula Shepherd to be the new general manager at its site at Latina, south of Rome, About Pharma reported on Monday.
She takes over from Nino Sacco who had covered the position since 2016. Shepherd joined Johnson & Johnson in 1998 as a process engineer and has had a variety of roles in the supply chain, in engineering and in quality control, the paper said.
She described the Janssen site at Latina as a focal point of Johnson & Johnson’s global production network. This was echoed by Janssen Italy’s CEO, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, who said the group is investing significantly in the centre both to expand capacity and enhance quality.