Greece needs a reform of mentality and a surplus of courage to implement structural reforms in the health sector
Athens, 27 March 2014 – Today, speaking at the Financial Times conference entitled “Shaping the Future of Healthcare in Greece – Shaping a Healthier Nation, Shaping a Healthier Europe”, the President of SFEE, Mr. Konstantinos Frouzis, called for a “smart prescription” to address the problems of healthcare. Creating the conditions that ensure unhindered access by patients, especially the underprivileged, to medicines and in particular new and innovative ones, is the responsibility and goal of pharmaceutical policy in every European country that respects its citizens, said Mr Frouzis.
What is needed along with the needed structural reforms is basically a “mentality reform”. What we have managed so far is to underfund the healthcare system and instead of 6% of GDP for public health expenditure to have through this policy of of unreasonable price reductions just 4,8% and less than 2 billion euro pharmaceutical budget for our country for 2014. In effect this is tantamount to a tacit “ban” on new and innovative medicinal products, while at the same time forestalling or expelling from the market many other medicines / treatments necessary for human life.
More specifically, Mr. Frouzis emphasized that this policy of across-the-board price reductions must be replaced by a policy of targeted interventions that represent a “smart prescription”. The main ingredients of this prescription are:
• Efficient management of hospital expenditure through DRGs as well as through control of other cost centers revisiting thoroughly the allocation of the available funds and increasing the budget to 700 million euro, minimum tolerable limit.
• Full computerization of the public hospital systems remains the dominant “healthy solution” for cutting unnecessary costs without impairing patients’ access to the medicines they need.
• Funding innovative R&D and allowing access of innovative medicines in the Greek market through further savings produced by the off-patent and generic products’ sector. These make up an answer to the complex challenges that lie ahead of the government in the coming years. Mr Frouzis also pointed out that innovative medicines entail significant savings for the healthcare system by ensuring faster healing for patients and reducing hospital stays.
• Meanwhile, if we do not adopt a new “comprehensive prescription”, we will not be able to avoid negative developments: an additional reduction in pharmaceutical expenditure below to the already marginal level of €2.3 billion would generate much higher “hidden costs” as a result of longer hospitalization (hospital costs) and more days of sick leave from work, not to mention the incalculable moral cost of poorer public health and decrease if life expectancy in our country, which we risk passing on to our children.
• It is worth noting that average per capita pharmaceutical expenditure in the OECD countries is about €320, whereas in Greece, with the further reductions introduced for 2014, it risks falling to €170! We cannot possibly believe that in this way a country can by any means ensure an equivalent healthcare level, access and social care of its citizens.
• The pharmaceutical industry is the only sector of the economy that partners so closely with the state in pursuing the shared goal of promoting a critical good that is public health. The viability of pharmaceutical companies presupposes also a predictable environment, which can be established through dialogue with the State. Any sudden and revenue-seeking measures (such as the claw-back) would ultimately undermine the health system and the country itself.
The transition from the crisis to sustainable growth by the rationalization of the pharmaceutical costs and the development of innovation was also the focus of Ms Jane Griffiths, Chair of EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) Executive Committee.