Press review

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Italian regions ready to support pharma policy changes but only if industry settles outstanding payback

MILAN, 18 Jan (APM) - Italian regions have sent an offer to pharma industry association Farmindustria for an agreement which would see outstanding payback paid in exchange for support for modifications being made to drugs reimbursement policies, Quotidiano Sanità reported on Thursday.
The online publication broke the story about a possible deal on Wednesday (APMHE 61471).
Health minister Giulia Grillo has been made aware of the proposal at a meeting with the head of the regional government association, Stefano Bonaccini. Quotidiano Sanità understands Farmindustria is now assessing it before deciding whether to accept.
The agreement foresees every company paying all outstanding payback owed to cover overspending during the years 2013-2017 by the end of April this year.
In exchange, the regions will back proposals for new pharma policy guidelines, which were announced at the beginning of December, to be reconsidered. They will also support a review of budget caps so that they can be revised and provide more realistic funding for drugs starting from 2019.
But the regions have made clear that any failure to pay all the payback owed will mean they withdraw their support for changes to be made. If pharma signs up to the deal, it will be up to the government to prepare the necessary regulatory measures, Quotidiano Sanità said.

Growing number of Italians travel to Switzerland to buy medicines

Growing numbers of Italians on the border are travelling to Switzerland to buy medicines, according to the local newspaper La Provincia di Sondrio on Wednesday.
Sometimes it is because drugs are in short supply at home. This was the case with valsartan-based blood pressure medications and Questran which is used to treat serious intestinal disorders.
The paper said Switzerland has more flexible rules for hospital drugs which means that drugs are always available there although they can cost three times as much in Italy.
More recently, Italians have been crossing the border to buy oncology products which are not always available in local hospitals. However, in this case, costs are considerable lower in Switzerland than at home.
A pharmacy owner on the Swiss side of the border said that the costs of AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso (osimertinib) are around €6,500 compared to €9,000 when brought privately in Italy. Novartis’ Glivec (imatinib) has a price of €10,000 in Switzerland and around €14,000 in Italy, he told the paper.

Microsoft/Walgreens Boots Alliance join forces to counter Amazon

Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance have joined forces over a strategy designed to counter Amazon’s push into healthcare and pharmacy spaces, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
Microsoft Azure, the cloud computing division of the IT giant, and an artificial intelligence platform will be used to support investments in healthcare and retailing. The aim is to create networks for providing new, innovative healthcare solutions which are more effective but also cost less, the paper said.

Former AIFA chief joins charitable research foundation

Former AIFA chief, Nello Martini, who helped set up the medicines agency in 2004, has joined a charitable research organisation Fondazione Ricerca e Sviluppo (ReS), Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
He was previously director general of another research institute, Drugs & Health and took over his new post at the beginning of December, the paper said.

Pharma employees second highest paid in Italy

Employees in the pharma industry are the second highest paid in Italy after banking, About Pharma reported on Tuesday.
It cited a report by recruitment specialists Badenoch & Clark and JobPricing. This highlighted the sector’s good performance which has seen production increase even during downturns driven by robust exports growth.
The report showed that salaries in the pharma industry rose on average by 0.2% in 2017 compared to 2.1% in 2016. According to the research, top managers earn double the amount of middle managers and four times as mice as manual workers.

Mandatory vaccines debate continues

The debate about whether 10 vaccines should be mandatory or not continued this week with letter from a doctor to Il Fatto Quotidiano published on Wednesday.
Cesare Gentile was responding to an article by the paper’s editor Marco Travaglio which carried the headline ‘Science and Science Fiction’. Travaglio cited countries in northern Europe as the model to follow because coverage is high but there is no obligation.
However, the doctor questioned whether Italy is ready for such a “mature” approach. He noted that screening for different cancers is still far below the necessary level in Italy and vaccinations against the papilloma virus, which are reimbursed but not compulsory, are also well below expectations and targets.
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