MILAN, 20 Sep (APM) - The head of industry body Farmindustria has called for dialogue with the Italian government as pharma production shows signs of weakening, news agency ANSA reported on Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Rome conference, Massimo Scaccabarozzi said the sector has been growing at an annual rate of 20% in recent years in contrast to many other parts of the economy. He described the pharma industry as a valuable asset for Italy but warned there are small signs of a slowdown gathering pace.
In addition to political uncertainty in recent months, the trade war between the U.S. and China has also played a part. Scaccabarozzi described the industry in Italy as being "under attack" from other countries, especially emerging markets, which are looking to take Italy's leadership position in drugs production.
As a result, the Farmindustria chief made an appeal to the Italian government. "What we need is a period of stability but also of dialogue, because when there is dialogue the government has the elements it needs to understand the situation and make appropriate choices," he said.
About Pharma also reported on the industry chief's comments on Thursday. It quoted him as saying that the industry is not trying to impose one government or another on the country but that it does want the best policies possible for patients.
Scaccabarozzi pointed out that industry agreed to settle €2.4 billion of outstanding payback at the beginning of the year in exchange for a commitment to involve industry in reforms of spending and reimbursement regulation and rules.
The pharma chief also noted that public agencies and regulators also take decisions which affect the industry. He referred to rumours that the national medicines formulary will be revised to exclude many products and noted efforts to allow different drugs to be considered therapeutically equivalent.
Scaccabarozzi made clear that such action could be detrimental to Italy's image abroad. "These are signs that make investors nervous and although they may not actually disinvest they could pause for reflection," he said.
Drug shortages must be addressed through united action
Drug shortages can only be successfully tackled if all interested parties are involved in finding a solution, a senior health official wrote in a comment piece for Tuesday's Avvenire.
Walter Ricciardi, a former head of the national research institute ISS, said a wide-ranging discussion on the many factors which cause distribution problems needs to be started.
It should involve as many people as possible, including health operators, medical professionals, distributors, pharmacists, universities and scientific societies. In Italy, this is not happening yet, Ricciardi warned.
He noted that economic factors can be one of the primary causes. A drug company may decide to stop production of a product for commercial reasons. Generics firms might stop investing in certain areas because profit margin are too thin.
Riccardi suggested that some companies, when faced with intransigence from a regulatory agency, will prefer to export to another market rather than sell in the home market. He added that this is happening more frequently in Italy.
Scientists launch petition to support biomedical research in Italy
Scientists have launched a petition calling for support of biomedical research in Italy which under attack from animal rights groups and faces funding problems, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
It cited comments by the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte who stated that scientific research must be encouraged and valued in Italy. A manifesto explaining the issues and proposing solutions will be sent to the health minister and parliament, the paper said.
Market share of generics continues to grow
Off-patent drugs accounted for 66% of reimbursed spending on products distributed through the pharmacy channel and 83% of the volumes of medicines used, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Monday.
The information came from medicines agency AIFA's annual OSMED spending report, the paper said. In 2011, off-patent products accounted for just 37% of spending.
However, pure generics accounted for only 19% of the spending last year and 29% of the volumes used, demonstrating the continuing strength of branded originators. In 2011 the share of pure generics was 9%, the paper said.
Il Sole 24 Ore explained that generic drugs have to be called 'equivalent' in Italy because 'generic' in Italian suggests that it is less effective or has a non-specific effect. It was thought the name 'generic' was one of the reasons why Italians were reluctant to use generics, preferring branded products instead.