Press review

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Controversy over choice of hospitals authorised to use CAR-T in Spain

Country : Spain, Europe

Keywords :
MADRID, 10 May (APM) - Autonomous regions in Spain are concerned about an "uneven" distribution of Spanish hospitals authorised to use CAR-T cancer therapies, both Europa Press agency and medical journal Diario Médico reported on Wednesday.
The Spanish ministry of health announced on Monday that 11 hospitals have been authorised to use CAR-Ts, Diario Médico reported. (APMHE 60971)
Shortly after the announcement, representatives of a number of autonomous regions complained that three of these are in Catalonia, whereas patients in some northern regions such as Navarra have no authorised hospitals near their home, the journal noted.
Madrid healthcare authorities have complained that only one hospital has the ministry’s green light to use CAR-Ts in this highly populated region, which will make it extremely difficult to meet patients’ needs.
Speaking at a press conference after the latest meeting of the council of regions in Madrid on Thursday, health minister María Luisa Carcedo told reporters that the list of authorised hospitals will be revised in six months, Europa Press added.
The agency quoted Carcedo as saying that the geographical distribution of hospitals will not be a reason to deprive patients of the treatment they need. She admitted that having a reference hospital relatively close is certainly and advantage, but clarified that safety comes first and that each hospital had been chosen based on its resources in terms of experienced professionals and quality procedures, Europa Press reported.

Opioid use on the rise

Healthcare authorities are increasingly worried about abuse of opioids in Spain, where consumption of these drugs has grown 79% over the past seven years according to drug regulator AEMPS, daily El País reported on Wednesday.
The Spanish ministry of health and regional authorities have created a working group to assess prescription of opioids in the country. Abuse of fast-release fentanyl, an extremely strong opioid, has caused alarm, El País said.
The newspaper quoted María Ángeles Canos, head of the pain unit at Hospital La Fe in Valencia as saying: “The use [of fentanyl] has increased because pain is now treated in a more efficient way. It is not right to stigmatise a group of medicines which is quite useful and greatly improve patients’ quality of life”.
However, with a number of documented cases of inadequate prescriptions, healthcare authorities have decided to take a step forward. Fast-release fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and its action is practically immediate. However, risk of addiction is high. That is why it is authorised exclusively for cancer patients with irruptive pain, Antonio Alcántara, from medical society SEMERGEN, told El País.
In other patients, slow-release fentanyl must be the preferred treatment of irruptive pain, Alcántara added.
Both clinicians and representatives of the government admit that off-label use of fast-release fentanyl exists, according to the newspaper.

Hyperplasia drugs delay cancer diagnosis

The use of 5α-reductase inhibitors (also known as 5-ARIs) to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has been found to delay cancer diagnosis, daily ABC and Europa Press agency reported on Monday.
According to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, patients treated with 5-ARIs were diagnosed with prostate cancer an average of 3.6 years after the first signs of the disease were observed. The average time from the first signs to the diagnosis was 1.4 years in individuals who had not been treated with these drugs, ABC reported.
The study also suggested that 25% of patients who were treated with 5-ARIs suffered from more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and 7% of them were diagnosed at a metastatic phase.

Innovation is key to guarantee the system's sustainability

On Thursday, financial paper Cinco Días carried an editorial from AbbVie medical director of Spain, Luis Nudelman, who argued that pharma contributes to the sustainability of the Spanish healthcare system in a number of ways, such as strongly investing in R&D. Pharma is the second industry by R&D investment in Spain, he noted.
Nudelman followed the arguments of European pharma trade body EFPIA, emphasising the importance of pharmaceutical innovation as a guarantee of high-quality healthcare.
“Innovation is about objective, measurable benefits for patients and society as a whole. By reducing the progression of chronic diseases and their complications, innovative therapies diminish costs”, he wrote.
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