WARSAW, 6 Mar (APM) - The coronavirus threat is causing Poles to stock up not only with food, but also over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and make out long-term prescriptions to prepare for a possible outbreak of the virus in Poland, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA4) on Monday and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pB1) on Tuesday and (pB4) on Wednesday.
Experts say common cold medicines are no cure for the virus, while buying drugs in advance to avoid drug shortages will have the opposite effect, reported Rzeczpospolita. Apart from ibuprofen and paracetamol, patients suffering from thyroid diseases started buying out Euthyrox from their long-term prescriptions fearing drug shortages, which could itself lead to shortages of the drug, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, pharmacists report that patients are not only stocking up, but are also taking OTC drugs in advance preventively, which has no effect at all, added Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on Wednesday.
Some 386 drugs are currently listed in Poland by the Ministry of Health as being on the brink of unavailability, while 500 drugs were not available during the peak of the drug crisis at the turn of June and July last year.
A total of 45% of Polish patients fear a possible drugs crisis, 75% of whom have already experienced problems obtaining medications. Some 73% of Poles claim domestic drug production would ensure drug availability whereas 70% of drugs sold in Poland are produced with active ingredients imported from China, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on Tuesday.
SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains have been isolated in the Sacco isolation hospital in Milan, Italy, currently the area of the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe, but The New England Journal of Medicine experts claim clinical trials of a potential vaccine will be held no sooner than in early spring, while mass production will require several more months, reported Gazeta Wyborcza (p6) on Saturday and (p5) on Tuesday.
Polish government prepares Special Purpose Coronavirus Act
A newly prepared Special Purpose Act in the fight against COVID-19 will stipulate the measures to be taken to stop the spread of the disease but is also stirring up controversies regarding civil rights and freedoms, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pA2-A3) and Gazeta Wyborcza (p1) on Tuesday and Rzeczpospolita (pA13) on Thursday.
According to the bill, the Polish Ministry of Health (MoH) will be entitled to limit drug purchases per patient to avoid drug shortages, regulate drug supplies by wholesalers, producers and distributors directly to pharmacies and health centres, thereby excluding shops, supermarkets and petrol stations, to ensure the drugs remain available, punishing non-compliance with a fine of between 10,000 zlotys (€2,300) and 5 million zlotys (€1.2 million).
The act also addresses the use of drugs and medical devices from the Material Reserves Agency which - if necessary - will be distributed to patients free of charge. The MoH will also set maximum prices for selected drugs and medical devices as an anti-speculative measure to combat the artificially inflated prices arising from the threat of the spread of the virus.
The MoH will also have the right to take over batches of drugs from wholesalers, producers and importers to the State Treasury with no mention of compensation. The critics of the bill claim this would cause a breach of the constitution as it would defy the right of ownership.
Cancer patients barred from home chemotherapy
Instead of allowing patients to undergo one-day chemotherapy at home, the latest amendment to the regulations on chemotherapy agreements with hospitals will instead shorten the chemotherapy hospitalisation period to one day and regulate bulk drug purchases, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (pB11) on Tuesday.
The bulk purchase regulations will standardise prices for health centres, as drug prices differ between hospitals.
IPF patients 'need access to innovative therapies'
According to pulmonology experts from the Polish Mucoviscidosis Association (PTM) presented at a debate organised by Rzeczpospolita, Polish patients suffering from mucoviscidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) need better access to innovative therapies to match EU and U.S. standards, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA10) on Tuesday.
PTM is fighting for the reimbursement of treatment, access to pancreatic enzymes, antibiotics and causative treatments and the easing of eligibility requirements for antifibrinolytic drug programmes.
Children need 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine
Experts say the compulsory 10-valent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV-10) is insufficient to fully protect Polish children from pneumococcal infections and has led to the strengthening of the remaining and most dangerous three serotypes, namely 3, 6A and 19A, reported Rzeczpospolita (pA11) on Thursday.
Pneumococcal vaccines have been compulsory for children since 2017, but a 10-valent vaccine was chosen, despite the experts' recommendations, because of financial criteria.
Poland is currently among the last 33 countries in the world and three countries in Europe that do not use PCV-13. The 13-valent vaccine is only administered to high-risk child patients, namely prematurely born children, the chronically sick or children with reduced immunity.
The less effective vaccines will be administered to all other children, unless the parents are willing to pay for the vaccines themselves. 30% of parents are currently prepared to do so.
Celon Pharma receives grant recommendation for pain treatment
The National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) has recommended Celon Pharma's application for its STEP7 project, a 5-HT7 receptor agonist based serotonergic pain-relieving drug, for a 36.2 million zloty (€8.5 million) grant, reports Puls Biznesu (p06) on Friday.
The total project cost is estimated at 55.6 million zlotys (€13 million) and will include development and clinical evaluation up to stage two of the research of the drug to be used for treating neuropathy, a condition affecting a growing number of patients.
According to Market Research Future, the global market for treating neuropathic pains will be worth over $8 billion in 2023, growing 6% year on year.