MILAN, 20 Dec (APM) - Italy is ready to build a 'dialogue' with pharma and plans to tackle a huge imbalance in reimbursement budgets, the health minister said in an interview published by Il Sole 24 Ore on Thursday.
Roberto Speranza was commenting on a new three-year health plan which was signed off by regions earlier in the day. It will lead to a €3.5 billion increase in national health funding and includes a number of other important health policy initiatives.
The paper asked the minister about how he intends to involve industry. He replied that Italy needs to make companies feel welcome.
"Businesses must be part of the deal. There will be a thousand billion (euros) invested in pharmaceutical research worldwide over the next five years. Do we want to be left out or do we want to do everything to try to attract these resources? I would like some of these investments to come to Italy," he told Il Sole 24 Ore.
Industry has warned about the imbalance in reimbursement spending for some time. There was a deficit of more than €2 billion in the hospital drugs budget in the first seven months of the year and a surplus of more than €300 million in the other.
Speranza noted that pharma wants ceilings to be adjusted. He said: "This model must be radically rethought. We need to rebalance the two ceilings on pharmaceutical spending as soon as possible. The right regulatory vehicle must be found and I'm working on it."
He added that the payback system is another area which urgently needs reformed describing it as 'surreal'. He has no doubt hat companies will take part in discussions. "The challenge is to match the public interest, which is always pre-eminent for me, with legitimate private interests. The dialogue has already started," he said.
Regional health official warns against combining reimbursement budgets
A regional health official warned against combining the reimbursement budgets in another article in Il Sole 24 Ore on Wednesday.
Luca Coletto, current health assessor in Umbria and a former health undersecretary, was commenting on the new national health plan. He told the paper there are several issues which still need to be resolved with drug spending limits one of the most important.
He suggested the different budgets need to be monitored separately "to avoid losing control". This is especially important for innovative and oncology products which need to be assessed to decide if they really work, he added.
"So the recipe should be: separate spending ceilings, careful monitoring of direct and hospital drugs distribution, bringing it into line with the territorial (pharmacy) segment, where good results have been obtained," Coletto told the paper.
Clinicians welcome reimbursement decisions for MSD's Keytruda
Italian clinicians welcomed recent decisions by medicines agency AIFA to reimburse indication extensions for Merck Sharp & Dohme's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in an article published by Il Sole 24 Ore on Saturday.
Last week, the immunotherapy was recognised as innovative for the treatments of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and late-stage melanoma patients (APMHE 65461
). It was also approved for reimbursement in metastatic urothelial carcinoma and classical Hodgkin lymphoma (APMHE 65467
Sergio Bracarda, director of medical and experimental oncology at a Terni hospital, and Mario Mandalà, head of a melanoma unit in Bergamo, highlighted how Keytruda has provided a new option for urothelial carcinoma.
There are expected to be 31,600 new cases in Italy in 2019. "We had been waiting for this decision for two years, now we can finally offer our patients real therapeutic innovation," they said.
Italy is expected to have 12,300 new cases of melanoma in 2019. Keytruda will allow a high percentage of patients to be cured now that an adjuvant treatment indication has been approved, Bracarda and Mandalà said.
In 2019, Italy is expected to have 371,000 new cancer cases in total. "Innovative drugs make it possible to prolong survival and improve quality of life for patients, who can rejoin the labour market and return to being productive," the clinicians added.
Dompé invests €3 million in innovative technology transfer startup
Dompé has invested €3 million in Materias, a startup which develops innovative solutions in the advanced materials sector and accelerates their entry onto the market, Il Messaggero reported on Wednesday.
Co-founders of the Naples-based firm include the Italian subsidiary of Switzerland's Ibsa and the investment company MPA Development.
In three years since it was founded, Materias has collected and analysed 850 science-based technologies, signing agreement with leading universities and research centres in Italy, the paper said. It has made 28 patent applications financed more than 20 research projects with €3.4 million capital it raised.
Its chairman is a former Italian minister Luigi Nicolais. Materias gives support to emerging technologies facilitating their connections with the research world, industry and investors, he said.