SfEE’s New Year’s Reception
Athens, 31 January 2014 – Αt the New Year’s Cake-Cutting ceremony, the President of SFEE, Mr K. Frouzis, expressed his firm belief that the year 2014 should mark the stabilisation of the economy and that the hard efforts made in past years allow optimism for a fresh start. The event was held yesterday at the restaurant of the Athens Concert Hall and was attended by members of the political, academic, business and media communities.
Mr. Frouzis stressed that, in the past few years, pharmaceutical companies, acting with social responsibility, patriotism and a strong sense of duty, did their utmost to help tackle the crisis. He did not omit, however, to point out some major mistakes in the policy pursued, such as “the Procrustean decision to cut pharmaceutical expenditure even further to €2 billion, a figure that ranks Greece at the bottom of Europe in terms of per capita pharmaceutical expenditure”.
Mr Frouzis warned that “This increases the risk that the country currently holding the European Union Presidency will face an acute problem of pharmaceutical supply shortage”. He therefore reiterated SFEE’s call for realism to prevail and for a stabilisation of pharmaceutical expenditure at the very low level of €2.3 billion”.
SFEE’s President also indicated a need to establish a specific budget for hospital pharmaceuticals, which should not be less than €680-700 million for 2014, and the need for fair and equal treatment of all stakeholders in the supply chain, an essential condition for a normalisation of the pharmaceutical market. “Not a single link in this chain can withstand unfair treatment”, he said. In this regard, he called on the Health Minister and the Government to consider equivalent measures: as the 6% share of GDP devoted to public health care is about €11 billion, some €8-8.5 billion represent non-pharmaceutical costs, it would thus not be too difficult to work out equivalent measures.
“After all”, he added, “the growth we all want can only be built on bridges of trust. For the benefit of the country and patients, more incentives should be given to pharmaceutical companies to sustain investment and increase employment and export activity”.
Concluding his address, the President of SFEE said he was in favour of a proper control on prescribing, but argued that horizontal measures such as a ceiling on prescribing per physician cannot deliver the desired results but instead creates problems, particularly for the patient. For this reason, he noted that the entire industry and all the experienced staff of SFEE are committed to stand by the State and continue to work constructively together towards viable solutions that the country needs so much.
“SFEE is not just an industry association, not only a very reliable party to a dialogue with the State, but has also become one of the most modern European think tanks as regards pharmaceutical policy and its implementation in a country experiencing a gruelling austerity”, said Mr. Frouzis.
The next speaker was the Minister of Health, Mr Adonis Georgiadis, who thanked SFEE and all its member companies for their fruitful cooperation in recent months, acknowledging their important contribution to the economic growth of the country, but insisted that a ceiling on prescribing is necessary, otherwise any overrun in spending would translate into a claw-back, which the companies would certainly not be able to sustain. He characteristically said that adjustment will definitely take some time and requested the cooperation and understanding of all stakeholders. He talked about a new start in 2014, with policies that will respect the needs of patients and allow new medicinal products to enter the market, while at the same time establishing therapeutic and diagnostic protocols to ensure the necessary control. Regarding the issue of the pharmaceutical budget, the Minister admitted that the €2 billion target is overly demanding and said that the government and the Prime Minister personally are currently working to arrive at a more feasible solution. In closing, the Minister stressed that the first half of 2014 will be the toughest period. However, he was optimistic that our country will be able to confirm a budgetary surplus by April and to move on to a path of economic growth, of which and pharmaceutical companies, both Greek and multinationals should be part, in order to ensure an increase in employment and, through the industry’s investment and exports, in the country’s GDP in general.
In a short address, the Deputy Minister of Health, Ms Z. Makri, commended the good effort in the national interest, which encompasses pharmaceutical companies too, to which she wished a happy and prosperous year.
During the event, the Minister of Health, Mr Adonis Georgiadis, awarded the financial prizes to the three winners of the “SFEE Innovation Project”, for their innovation proposals in the field of health. Ms Fotini Christodoulou, upon accepting the first price for “MIR.I.AM: Diagnostic tests for 48 different types of cancer”, said that “promoting innovation will play a key role in the exit from the recession, as technology will be at the core of the economic model of the future”.
Ms Christodoulou, postdoctoral researcher in Molecular Biology at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, added: “I can see that a serious effort is being made to highlight innovative ideas in a country that has come under strain largely because it has rarely rewarded creativity and excellence according to merit. I am happy to see that, and so are many young people who, rather than being paralyzed by the crisis, have become exceptionally active and have figured out viable career options in an environment currently in flux”.
The head of the team that won third prize with their Pneumogenesis project, Dr Demosthenes Bouros, Professor of Pulmonology, Democritus University of Thrace, thanked the President of SFEE and the pharmaceutical companies for their support and for this important initiative and stressed that “Our winning of the prize is a great honour for the Democritus University of Thrace and the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis. It reflects the spirit of excellence to which our Medical School is committed and, at the same time, the extroversion, innovation and entrepreneurship that are so much needed not only by the border region of Thrace, but by the whole country”.
Finally, the President extended his warm thanks to the member companies of SFEE that actively supported the implementation of the competition, in particular the companies: GENESIS, MSD, PHARMASERVE-LILLY, PHARMATHEN, ROCHE, NOVARTIS and the PhRMA Innovation Forum for their generous sponsorship, as well as the Real Group and Naftemporiki, which as key media partners supported SFEE throughout the project.
The event was also honoured with the presence of: Mr. G. Stergiou, Secretary-General for Consumers; Mr Ch. Platsis, Vice CEO of the 2nd Healthcare Region; Mr P. Skandalakis, Chairman of the Central Health Board (KESY); Mr D. Lintzeris, President of the National Organisation for Medicines (EOF); Ms K. Fameli, 1st Vice-President of EOF; Mr I. Karafyllis, 2nd Vice-President of EOF; Mr M. Schinas, Head of the Athens Office of the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission; Mr K. Papathanassiou, Deputy Governor of IKA; Mr G. Petrikkos, Chair of the Pharmaceutical Prices Committee; Mr Ch. Karathanos, Alternate Chair of the Pharmaceutical Prices Committee; Mr N. Choulis, Chairman of the Reimburesment List Committee; Mr M. Vlastarakos, President of the Panhellenic Medical Association; Mr G. Christodoulou, President of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Technology (IFET); Mr P. Vardas, President of the European Society of Cardiology; Mr B. Mercouris, President of the Greek Union of General Practitioners (ELEGEIA); Mr Th. Skoutelis , President of the Athens Medical Society; Mr D. Bouros, President of the Greek Scientific Society for Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs (EESPOF); Mr A. Avgerinos, Secretary-General of EESPOF; Prof. G. Doukidis; Prof. G. Kolios; Prof. I. Pnevmatikos; Prof. A. Sissouras; Prof. I. Tountas; Prof. I. Yfantopoulos; Mr J. Kittmer, British Ambassador to Athens; Mr G. Bonanos, Commercial Attaché, US Embassy, Mr P. Stalder, Commercial Attaché, Swiss Embassy; Mr K. Kouvaris, 2nd Vice-President of the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association; Mr S. Belonis , President of the Federation of Cooperative Pharmacists of Greece (OSFE); Mr I. Giannoglou , Secretary-General of the Attica Pharmacists Association (FSA); Mr Th. Giarmenitis, President of the Hellenic Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (PSVAK); Mr P. Arnaoutis, President of the Hellenic Association of Scientific and Medical Equipment Suppliers; Mr A. Bekyras, President the Panhelenic Association of Orthopedic Implant Suppliers (PASYPOY); Ms D. Makridaki, President of the Panhellenic Association of Hospital Pharmacists; Ms O. Oikonomou, President of the Panhellenic Society of Hospital Pharmacists; Mr G. Konidaris, President of the Greek Association of Health Visitors (POIE); and Ms Z. Grammatoglou, President of the Athens Association of Cancer Patients (KEFI).
Last but not least, the event was attended by the former SFEE Presidents, Messrs D. Filiotis, G. Sykianakis and L. Crassaris, as well as CEOs and high-level staff from domestic and multinational pharmaceutical companies.