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Multi-state horizon scanning database 'not operational until 2021'

Country : Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands

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BRUSSELS, 1 Nov (APM) - The Beneluxa-inspired horizon scanning system announced on Tuesday will not come into full effect until 2021, its general manager, Marcus Guardian, has confirmed to APM.
Guardian, who will lead the International Horizon Scanning Initiative (IHSI) for the coming two years alongside his role as COO of EUnetHTA, spelled out a timeline for the start-up. (APMHE 64911)
IHSI plans to launch a tender in the first quarter of 2020 for a contractor to set up the database - later than earlier envisaged. "We have to be aware of public procurement rules which limit us very much in the pre-tender launch time," he said.
Similarly, because of the volume of the tender (which is expected to be “"several millions" according to earlier estimates cited by Beneluxa), European Union and World Trade Organisation requirements must be complied with, he added.
"Taking all these provisions into account and considering a tender beginning in Q1 2020, we expect to be able to confirm a winning party in Q4 2020. Based on this, we expect to have the database fully operational in 2021," said Guardian.
A separate IHSI statement speaks of "the first horizon scanning results expected by end of" 2020.

Immediate plans

Meanwhile, the network held its first general meeting on Tuesday, at which it agreed the timetable for the tender process.
While awaiting the establishment of the database, IHSI intends to cooperate among its existing nine members with their existing resources, to "harness the vast potential of data for the benefit of their health care systems".
It envisages "innovative use" of "drug studies, scientific literature and financial data from companies and investors in the pharmaceutical sector".
In time, medical devices will also become part of the initiative. IHSI is also increasing its communication activities with a view to gaining wider membership.
A (website) was launched this week and "we are currently in direct negotiations with six additional interested candidate countries", said Guardian.
A formal IHSI statement added that there are "a significant number of new candidate members beginning preparatory talks to join in the next year".

Ambitions

"This day marks the birth of an international organisation dedicated to levelling the playing field in the fight for fair drug pricing," said the IHSI statement.
The avowed goal is "to collect and analyse data that will enable countries to prepare for upcoming market introduction of potentially costly drugs".
"A technology-driven, transparent global database for new medicinal products will become a game changer, empowering governments to negotiate from a position of strength with regard to upcoming pharmaceutical product pricing in the common marketplace."
It emphasises that IHSI "is an independent body, financed through its members alone".
And the statement pays particular tribute to Dutch, Belgian and Irish health ministers Bruno Bruins, Maggie De Block and Simon Harris "as strong supporters during the preparatory phase".

Bruins 'driving force'

A statement from the Dutch health minister spoke of Bruins "as the driving force behind the establishment of the partnership", "together with" De Block and Harris.
He described the new partnership as a route to prepare for the arrival of "new, promising but unfortunately often expensive medicines".
"As these countries intensively share information with each other, they expect that their position in accessing and achieving responsible drug prices will greatly improve."
Bruins looked forward explicitly to further and deeper collaboration.
"Cooperation starts with sharing information to be ready for the future, for example in national and international negotiations. I see this as an important step towards broader international cooperation," he said, with a clear suggestion that "colleagues who are not yet members will join in the near future".
Not only will the network put members in "a better position in national negotiations with manufacturers".
"In addition, it is essential to be able to make agreements with other countries at an early stage about joint negotiations on new products."
In recent months, Bruins has mentioned that Canada is a likely future member.

Website war-cries

The website speaks of a "data-driven fight for fair prices" with headlines such as "governments change the conversation with real data".
IHSI will "level the playing field in the light of ever-increasing demands from the pharmaceutical sector", it says.
It claims that "awareness of which new drugs will come to market within the next two to five years enables decision-makers to better understand upcoming innovations and their influence on currently available products".
The network's "innovative technologies" will "scan open source data globally", making it possible for "negotiations to develop equitably, delivering lower costs".
As a consequence, "decision-makers are able to pre-emptively manage budgetary resources more effectively, ahead of time".
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