Press review

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Report shows economic cost of lack of drug adherence in Poland

WARSAW, 24 May (APM) - A large number of prescription drugs are used incorrectly in Poland because patients do not comply with the recommendations of doctors, according to the country's National Health Fund (NHF) in a story covered by Rzeczpospolita (pA14) on Wednesday.
The NHF claims 6 million out of 10 million Poles with high blood pressure do not use the drugs prescribed or use them occasionally, sometimes resulting in health complications.
According to a two-year analysis, 57% of patients follow less than 80% of recommendations and 29% less than 40% of recommendations.
The NHF focused on the economic cost of this lack of adherence, saying that patients used 55.2 million prescriptions bought 127.9 million packets of high blood pressure drugs in 2018. The reimbursement value of these drugs was 1.2 billion zlotys (€278.4 million), or 14% of the entire pharmacy drug reimbursement budget.
Pharmacists believe the situation could be improved by introducing comprehensive patient care standards in pharmacies, which could be achieved with the help of the recently launched IT systems for centralising prescription and patient data, said Rzeczpospolita. However, regulations increasing the involvement of pharmacists have been stuck in the Ministry of Health for several months, while the issue of drug waste continues.

Cancer treatment in Poland should be improved

Just 15 out of 93 drugs recommended for the treatment of 17 types of cancer are reimbursed without limitations in Poland, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (Tylko Zdrowie supplement, p2) on Friday.
The paper covered an analysis by the Alivia Foundation that said 34 more drugs are only available through drug programmes, to which access is restricted due to very strict qualification requirements, while the remaining 44 drugs are not reimbursed and unavailable in practice to patients.

EU may investigate large pharma pricing policies

The Netherlands may request the European Parliament review the pharmaceutical regulations covering patient access to affordable therapies, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA15) on Tuesday.
The Netherlands believes that not only are the high prices of drugs in the EU a problem, but so is their limited availability due to shortages, understocking or suboptimal distribution.
Discussions about drug prices in the EU have been ongoing for several years and the consensus is that governments should have more influence on their negotiation with the pharmas that are protected by patent laws, said Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
According to a report prepared by the Corporate Europe Observatory group, the extremely high prices of newly launched originator drugs could paralyse the healthcare systems of EU member states. The report cited as an example Gilead's hepatitis C drug Sovaldi and Vertex's cystic fibrosis treatments.
Poland recently signed a memorandum with the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary and Slovakia to work together during price negotiations with large pharmas, which could give the governments a better negotiating position and help improve access to innovative therapies. The countries will share information on the terms offered by the pharmas locally and exchange expert knowledge.

Medical cannabis will not be cheaper in Poland

Poland's treasury office will not reduce the rate of VAT on medical cannabis from 23% to 8%, which applies to other medicinal products, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA10) on Thursday.
While access to medical cannabis in Poland is improving, it is not reimbursed and patients have to pay 65-70 zlotys (€15-16) per gram of the product, partially because of the higher than expected rate of VAT imposed by the treasury office.
Spectrum Cannabis, the only approved importer of the product, was hoping that the officials would classify medical cannabis as a medicinal product instead of a pharmaceutical raw material, which would enable its price to be reduced by 15%, but the treasury office has so far opposed this.

Pharma investing heavily in R&D

According to IQVIA, the global pharmaceutical market should keep growing at a rate of 3-6% per year, exceeding $1.5 trillion by 2023, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA22) on Wednesday.
This growth estimate is attributed to the launch of new drugs and the expiring patent protection of originator medicines.

Merck & Co acquires Peloton Therapeutics

Merck & Co will acquire Peloton Therapeutics, which is working on a new cancer therapy, for $2.2 billion, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p11) on Wednesday.

Selvita splitting its business

Polish biotech Selvita will split its business to better focus its activities, reported Parkiet Gazeta Gieldy (p6) on Thursday.
Selvita intends to split into two businesses by the year end. Selvita Oncology will focus on R&D into particles to be used in cancer treatment, while Selvita CRO will continue providing laboratory and R&D services to external partners.
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