Pharmaceutical industry: A source of hope and protection for patients. A driver of growth and progress for the Greek economy
Athens, 23.03.2018 – On 22 March 2018, the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), in the context of its Annual General Assembly, organised a working dinner on “Pharmaceuticals: reforms, innovation and development are the active ingredients of the new growth model that the country needs”. The event brought together representatives of the government and international bodies, high-ranking officials of the opposition and of the healthcare sector and, last but not least, Mr. Geoffrey R. Pyatt, US Ambassador to Greece, who delivered opening remarks.
Addresses were also delivered by Ms Nathalie Moll, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and Ms. Fay Christodoulou, co-founder of Miroculus. The event highlighted the industry’s key role and contribution to the effective functioning of the public healthcare system; .to ensuring the equal and unhindered access of patients to life-changing and life-saving treatments brought about by scientific and technological advances; and to putting the Greek economy on to a sustainable path of growth and progress. The speakers underscored the value of ambitious and investment-friendly reform policies based on innovation, extroversion and a stable business environment as a prerequisite for changing the country’s growth model, turning brain drain into brain gain and ensuring high-quality healthcare provision for Greek patients.
Mr. Pyatt noted: “The impact of the Greek pharmaceutical industry – direct and indirect – exceeds EUR 7.5 billion and about 87,000 jobs. It is also the third largest exporter in Greece, with a strong tradition of innovation. US pharmaceutical companies doing business here often tell me they are proud of the innovative products they offer in Greece and are looking for opportunities to expand their business here.”
Ms. Moll in turn underlined the value of innovation and how it helps people to live longer and better lives.
Ms. Christodoulou recalled her personal story, from her first steps in SFEE’s Innovation Project in 2013 to MiroCulus in San Francisco and from 4 staff members to 22, with 7 patents in the US, 4 worldwide and a total of 33 applications. In closing, Ms. Christodoulou noted that, with the appropriate incentives, she would like to bring this initiative to Greece as well.
Mr. Apostolides stated that “The pharmaceutical industry has been and remains the main pillar of funding for the healthcare system, contributing one-third of pharmaceutical expenditure (in 2017 alone, we paid more than €1 billion to the State), four times the European average and more than any other sector of the Greek economy. At the same time, the industry supports the healthcare system by covering the uninsured (850,000 fellow citizens for 2017 at an annual cost of €165 million, which is expected to rise well above 200 million in 2018), substituting for the State’s social policy.” And Mr. Apostolides continued: “During all these difficult years, the industry has defended at all costs the access of patients to the treatments they need. We are all proud of this. We are proud that innovative medicines increase life expectancy and improve the quality of life of patients. We are proud to invest in medical education, and thus Greece has many of the best doctors in the world. We are proud that transparency and lawfulness are concepts that are inextricably linked to healthy entrepreneurship, concepts that the industry has been promoting since 2002 through its Code of Ethics. All the years of the crisis we have protected the greatest social good, health. Unfortunately, the measures enacted in 2017 for new medicines, such as the 25% entry fee, with retroactive effect, the unified rebate and uncontrollable claw-back, create additional viability challenges for companies in the industry and pose high risks to patient access to new life-saving treatments.”
Referring to the recent developments and the climate of misinformation, rumours and even questioning of doctor-patient relations or the value of medical education provided by pharmaceutical companies, Mr. Apostolides stressed that “The industry unanimously condemns any illegal act and expresses its trust in Greek justice and its ability to clear out the allegations as soon as possible”.
In concluding, Mr. Apostolides noted: “We are a strong national growth engine, with more than 150 companies and 28 manufacturing plants, supporting more than 26,000 direct jobs, of which 64% are university graduates, and 86.000 indirect jobs. We are the third largest exporter of the country, exporting to 141 countries, with an impact of close to €6 billion, contributing 3.5% to Greek Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We ask for the State’s meaningful cooperation, as there are a number on issues on which all of us agree:
– that medicinal products are a national priority and part of the solution;
– that under no circumstances should the country’s predicament cost us this social good and create the most terrifying inequality, two-tier patients;
– that only the adoption of a comprehensive and bold new architecture in the healthcare sector will its cure chronic ailments and save the necessary resources to provide high-quality services to citizens;
– that it is absurd to miss the great opportunities opened up by the investment, innovation and competitive dynamics of the industry, which even today remains the country’s third largest exporter.
What we need is a predictable business environment, institutionally shielded, with fair taxation, transparency, rules and procedures that ensure a sound and sustainable regulatory framework.
With real reforms, new priorities, implementation of therapeutic protocols and patient registers, a meaningful assessment of the clinical and economic value of health technology. Utilising an interdisciplinary approach and, of course, adapting pharmaceutical spending to the real needs of the country and of Greek patients”.