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Experts call for revamp of pharma policies to ensure drug security

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Healthcare experts in Poland have issued recommendations to the government calling for specific measures to both increase drug security and give domestic production a boost.

Drug security encompasses the entire journey of pharmaceuticals from production facilities to the hands of patients in pharmacies and hospitals.

It transcends the mere manufacture of medications, as Łukasz Szmulski, Director of the Department of Pharmaceutical Policy and Pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, said in his opening remarks in the discussion on drug security at the 19th Health Market Forum.

The forum saw a panel of experts convene to develop recommendations aimed at bolstering Poland’s pharmaceutical security, suggestions which were intended for the new health minister to guide the nation’s healthcare strategy in the coming years.

Reshaping the industry

Szmulski noted that the current pharmaceutical law in Poland was instituted in 2001, but the shifting economic landscape over the past 25 years has profoundly reshaped the pharmaceutical industry.

“The regulations initially established within the pharmaceutical law no longer seamlessly align with the rapidly evolving economic environment,” he said.

Moreover, he emphasised that during this time, various models have been implemented across Europe to restructure pharmaceutical distribution and trade.

These models present alternative approaches to address issues of drug security and accessibility, pointing out that adaptability is needed in order to remain competitive and provide reliable access to medications for the citizens of Poland.

Aneta Grzegorzewska, Director of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at Gedeon Richter Polska Sp. z o.o. suggested that in order to ensure pharmaceutical security in Poland, a paradigm shift is needed in how stakeholders within the healthcare system perceive the process.

She explained that it is crucial to recognise that drug security goes beyond just managing and reacting to medicine shortages.

It entails a complete reimagining of the entire pharmaceutical supply chain. She emphasised that it is only by establishing this strong foundation that the system can adequately address distribution and ensure consistent patient access to essential medications.

One of the strategies to combat drug shortages involved the development of a list of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that should be manufactured in Poland to ensure the country’s pharmaceutical security.

The current list comprises over 100 substances, including metformin, insulin, antibiotics, and statins.

Safety nets

Barbara Misiewicz-Jagielak, Director of External Relations in Polpharma SA and Vice President of the Management Board at the Polish Association of Pharmaceutical Industry Employers – National Drug Producers, stressed that this list would serve as a safety net in the event of border closures or similar emergencies.

She said that it is vital to understand that enhancing drug production necessitates more than just a list; it requires a wide array of tools and significant time investments.

“We must create a plan, a typical business project, where we define critical points, measure objectives, and systematically check how these points are being implemented”, she said.

Misiewicz-Jagielak outlined several challenges faced by drug manufacturers, such as high inflation, rising production costs, and increasing demand for certain active ingredients.

“If Poland genuinely aims to safeguard pharmaceutical security and boost domestic drug production, these are the areas we need to address. To achieve all of this, we need to break down the walls between representatives of various stakeholders in the context of drug policy,” she added.

Szmulski emphasised that communication between drug manufacturers and the government, as a regulatory body, can be challenging. He pointed out that in many aspects, each party involved pursues different interests.

“Ultimately, all regulations are about the patients, and, after all, each one of us is a patient from time to time. Perhaps adopting such a perspective in discussions could facilitate the establishment of a satisfying compromise,” he summarised.

[By Paulina Mozolewska Edited by Vasiliki Angouridi and Nathalie Weatherald, Euractiv.com]

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