Press review

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Italy's health minister defends selection for new advisory body appointments

MILAN, 8 Feb (APM) - Italy's health minister has defended the choice of members for the advisory body Consiglio Superiore di Sanità (CSS) to replace the 30 she sacked in December, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
The health ministry published a list of the appointments on Monday (APMHE 61768). Giulia Grillo said that all the people chosen to serve on the body have her “complete trust and respect”.
Camillo Ricordi has been seen as the most controversial because of his links to an unauthorised treatment for degenerative diseases, the Stamina method, which turned out to be a fraud.
Ricordi denied he had ever supported using the method. “I offered to conduct an independent scientific assessment because the centre I head in Miami does these type of checks to distinguish the hoaxes from the real hopes of new treatments,” he said.
Ricordi added that he had not made a fast track testing process available to the laboratories behind the Stamina method but rather to the health ministry so it could establish the real nature of the treatment.
The health ministry was rebuffed in one of its proposals for the new CSS, according to Tuesday’s La Repubblica.
It had wanted veteran pharmacologist Silvio Garattini, who has had an important role in drug reimbursement reforms, to be president of the body.
Health undersecretary Armando Bartolazzi said that the League, one of the two parties in the government coalition, had vetoed the choice. He added that Garattini will continue to work on drug reimbursement reforms.

Patients resorting to crowdfunding to pay for CAR-T therapies

Wednesday’s La Repubblica carried a report on how crowdfunding is being used to pay for costly drugs including CAR-T therapies.
The paper noted that two CAR-T therapies are approved in Europe but both are currently the subject of negotiations to decide a reimbursement price in Italy. That may take some time
The best Italian patients can hope for in the short term is that a compassionate use programme will start and they can find a place on it, La Repubblica said. Alternatively, they can try crowdfunding and are doing so in increasing numbers, it added.
It named two patients, Lorenzo and Calogero, who have resorted to crowdfunding. Both have forms of lymphoma which are resistant to chemotherapy and are looking to raise funds so they can pay for CAR-T therapies themselves.
However, it is still relatively uncommon to use crowdfunding in Italy, probably because there is a universal national health system, the paper said.

Efforts to open up €3 billion-euro non-prescription market fail

The latest efforts to have the €3 billion non-prescription drugs market opened up to diverse forms of retail pharmacy have failed, according to Tuesday’s La Repubblica.
Currently only pharmacies in the official reimbursement network can sell these drugs. A member of an opposition party had presented an amendment to have the market deregulated. But the parliament voted against it being included in the final draft of the ‘Simplification’ law.
The head of an OTC pharmacy association, Libere Farmacie Italiane, accepted that there is no longer any hope of having the reform passed this time round.
He said pharmacies outside the official reimbursement network will now pin their hopes on a revision of the medicines formulary which could reclassify a significant number of products as non-prescription drugs.

Hospital drug spend a cause of €1.1 billion health deficit in 2017

Increasing spending on hospital drugs was one of the main causes of a €1.1 billion health spending deficit in 2017, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
The paper cited a report by Italy’s national auditor which showed that health spending two years ago was €114 billion, up from €79 billion in 2002. In addition to rising expenditure on hospital drugs, the increased cost of procurement of goods and services was also a factor in generating a deficit.

AIFA approves funding for 12 independent drug research projects

Medicines agency AIFA has approved funding for 12 independent drug research projects, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Saturday.
A total of €7.7 million will be awarded to fund studies in different areas. They were chosen from a total of 368 candidate protocols, the paper said.
Seven of the projects are for research into rare diseases, two for antimicrobial projects, two for gender medicines and one in the paediatric area.
Of the eight which have clinical trials ongoing, four are in Phase II, two in Phase III and two in Phase IV.
The head of AIFA, Luca Li Bassi, said the agency will continue to focus on independent research, reflecting the need for a new approach to pharma ‘governance’.
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