SIFFA: Latvia’s Health Care Reforms a Step in the Right Direction but Need Continued Support and Increased Financing

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 General News
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RIGA, Latvia, September 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

International pharmaceutical companies represented in Latvia

welcome the progress achieved in implementing the health care reform and strongly support its continuation. 

"After quite some time, this year for the health care sector in Latvia has finally been hopeful

and development-based. Having held discussions with organisations representing patients, doctors and the industry as a whole, the government and the parliament have finally supported a significant budget increase for health care, including reimbursed medicines," explains Dr Valters Bol?vics, Executive Director of the Association of International Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (SIFFA).  

"We would like to hope that the new government, which will be established after the parliamentary election in October, will keep up this positive trend, and that by 2020 the health care system in Latvia will already receive 4% of the GDP. That would allow Latvia, which currently has one of the lowest budget allocations for health care in Europe, to move closer to the performance level of OECD member states," Bol?vics emphasises.  

Pharmaceutical manufacturers welcome the intention of the Ministry of Health to include among the priorities in next year's budget the improved availability to the public of reimbursed medicines.  One of the proposals envisions returning to the pre-crisis level of reimbursement of medicines, thus ending an injustice which has lasted for years, i.e., medicines, which are currently reimbursed at 50% or 75% would henceforth be 100% state funded.  

Another positive element is the desire of the Ministry of Health to continue including in the list of reimbursed medicines the latest generation of medicines for oncology patients, requesting increased financing for this objective in the next state budget.  

"The number of state-paid research-based medicines for cancer treatment available in Latvia will increase to 12 by the end of the year, from just a handful last year. These include medicines for lung cancer treatment, a new combination drug for breast cancer and intestinal cancer treatment, two medicines for neuroendocrine cancer," Bol?vics says.  

Positive changes have also been achieved in HIV treatment - additional funding in the 2018 budget has opened the door for early antiretroviral therapy, placing the threshold for the CD4 cell count at 500, rather than 350 or less as it was before.  This brings hope of limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Latvia, similarly to what has been achieved in other EU countries.

Furthermore, this year EUR 15 million which is nearly 5 million more than in 2017, have been allocated for state-of-the-art medicines for hepatitis C patients.  This allows providing modern interferon-free treatment to all hepatitis C patients, as is the practice elsewhere in Europe.  

Another positive element is the work begun by the Ministry of Health on the Rare Diseases Plan, which aims to promote of an improved approach to medicines, including research-based drugs, expanding the range of eligibility.

The first state-of-the-art medicine has also been included in the cardiovascular disease treatment area, but there should definitely be more such medicines, as they create savings for the state budget in the long-term, Bol?vics stresses.

About Association of International Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (SIFFA)

The Association of International Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (SIFFA) was founded in January 1996. At the present, SIFFA unites 19 members, representing: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Berlin-Chemie/Menarini, Boeringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Gedeon Richter, GlaxoSmithKline, Ipsen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Serono, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, Santen,Servier International, Takeda.

SIFFA members are the world's biggest manufacturers of pharmaceutical products, by their turnover and capitalization also ranking among the world's biggest companies in general. The Association members are engaged in both medicine production and development and research of new medicines.

SOURCE Association of International Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (SIFFA)

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