Press review

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Innovation needed in drug funding schemes - Spanish biotech association president

Country : Spain

Keywords :
MADRID, 8 Feb (APM) - On Tuesday, financial Cinco Días carried a lengthy interview with Ion Arocena, director of Spanish biotech association Asebio, who said innovation is required not only to develop new funding, but also to find new ways to make drugs affordable for the public healthcare system.
As co-author of a recently published document about funding of innovative drugs, Arocena thinks long-term strategic planning is key to affording new, expensive drugs, Cinco Días reported.
Arocena told the financial that Spain needs to change its pricing and reimbursement model so that the highest value is obtained from healthcare expenditure. From the industry’s point of view, the challenge is not only drug innovation, but also finding new funding and access schemes.
The authors' goal was to contribute to a wide consensus regarding strategies to face the challenge of making innovation available in public healthcare settings. “The subject has been discussed in a number of meetings over the past years. We felt it was important to make a contribution,” he told the financial.
Arocena said Spain suffers from a chronic funding deficit which is caused by lack of planning. As the country’s healthcare system is not capable of anticipating future funding needs or designing a budget adapted to them, special funding is provided annually in the form of additional funds (known as FLAs), among other tools.
As a consequence, some healthcare authorities try to delay access to innovation because they cannot afford it. With autonomous regions as the eventual payers, the result can be differences in access across the country, he added. (APMHE 61603, 60791)
According to him, oncology is the area where unmet medical needs are particularly high, and also the specialty where biotech and pharmaceutical companies are making the biggest efforts to develop new products.
“Companies have to make significant efforts to [make their products] access each autonomous region, because different criteria apply. This translates into difficulties in investment plans and future sales, because they do not know how their products will eventually enter the market. At the end of the day, it is an inefficiency of the [healthcare] system”, Arocena added.

CAR-T stories on World Cancer Day

On Monday, World Cancer Day, a number of newspapers carried stories about the latest cancer treatments, with CAR-Ts in the headlines.
Daily El Mundo, the second biggest Spanish newspaper by number of readers, carried comments by haematologist Álvaro Urbano, a member of Spanish cell therapies research network TerCell. Urbano said CAR-Ts may mark a turning point in the way cancer is treated. However, he cautioned "we are only witnessing their first steps".
Ruth Vera, president of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology, added that there are almost 270 ongoing clinical trials of CAR-Ts in solid tumours such as glioblastoma, kidney cancer and colorectal cancer.
Daily La Razón focused on CAR-Ts, with the headline: “CAR-T revolution, the cancer therapy of the future”. According to its story, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have improved many lives, but resistance to treatment remains a problem, which is why research is still needed in oncology. The therapies mentioned in the story are CAR-Ts, checkpoint inhibitors and bispecific antibodies.
La Vanguardia said 2018 was an extraordinary year in terms of cancer research. The newspaper mentioned improvements in diagnostic technology. In terms of new treatments, it focused on immunotherapy.

Painkiller ibuprofen not to be used long-term or without monitoring

On Thursday, daily ABC carried a story with recommendations by Alfonso Vidal, from La Luz and Quirón Hospitals in Madrid, about the proper use of popular painkiller ibuprofen.
Vidal defined overuse of the drug as taking it when it is not necessary, taking higher doses than those recommended by the doctor or for longer periods than those indicated by a physician. The usual course lasts from 10 to 15 days in acute conditions, and it must never be used continuously or without a doctor’s supervision, he added.
Overuse has been linked to stomach disease, hypertension and kidney damage - which can be the most serious, leading to kidney failure, he warned.
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