Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Friday, 22 October 2010
Personally I´m no chemist so I’m not sure how the lifecycle of a drug looks like but it seems like a given one that we look into how active ingredients are being transmitted into our water.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
"First, while by definition they tend to be very rare – affecting fewer than 5 in 10,000 people in the EU and less than 200,000 people in the US – the 7,000 known orphan diseases affect up to 8% of the world's population which includes some 25 million US citizens and 30 million Europeans. This is more than the numbers suffering from cancer or cardiovascular disease," added Dr Wilson. .... According to Dr Wilson, the chance of successfully developing a drug for a rare disease is twice as high as for one targeting a common disease. "
Dr Shelagh Wilson is vice-president of business development, GSK Rare Diseases
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Surveyed was beside the consumption of anti-depressants and mental well-being, things like stigma attached to mental disorders, absence from work as well as perception of job security.
Link to the Eurobarometer report here.
Friday, 8 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
When I have done interviews on the subject of patient representation in the HTA process the main issue raised was actually not their links to pharma but that after a while they become too much part of the institutions and the boards where they are supposed to be a different voice compared to the civil servants and scientists.
Sadly no governmental represent was on the panel. The commission declined. Given that their agency EMA will revise its current Policy and Procedure, at their Management Board meeting tomorrow aiming at increasing transparency it would have been interesting to have them there to answer a question or two.
I have not seen the formal proposal only the presentation held for their Scientific Committees in June/July under the headline: Key Principles of a Revised EMA Policy and Procedure on the Handling of Conflicts of Interests of EMA Scientific Committees’ Members and Experts. The new ethical guidelines are said to be so strict that any financial support from pharma industry will disqualify participation as expert in EMAs various committees. And if they are transparent with their funding this would not enough since EMA also are looking at the possibility of a “More proactive approach, e.g. in terms of the search for alternative expertise”. It sounds to me like if they don´t like the funding of specific experts EMA aim to be able to go and try finding some else. It doesn’t seem like a good method to ensure independent voices.
I think industry should give money to good causes and if it is part of their marketing strategy: fine. Funding comes and should come from different sources. Also industry. I think patient organisations with varied funding have a better chance of being independent compared to those that have only money from the government.
As Anders Olausson Chairman of EPF pointed out – in Sweden a lot of patient organizations are fully funded by the government and he didn’t want to say that they are not doing their job but underlined that it is very quiet. He then concluded that diversity is very important.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Thursday, 18 March 2010
As reported by Reuters Dr. Tetsuhisa Kitamura, of the Kyoto University Health Service have published a study in New England Journal of Medicine analyzing information on more than 300,000 Japanese adults who suffered cardiac arrest between 2005 and 2007. The study shows that only 14 percent of the12,631 people that suffered a cardiac arrest in front of witnesses survived and had minimal brain damage one month later. Better odds for those receiving treatment with an AED by one of those witnesses: of those who got an AED shock from a witness it wasn’t 14 but instead 32 percent that survived with little to no brain damage.
And availability is the key: from 2005 to 2007 the rate of those treated by a public AED rose from 1.2 percent to 6.2 percent and cardiac arrest survival was greater in geographic areas with more AEDs.
We have to get away from the perception that healthcare is something mere for the profession to deliver in line with what the government have planned.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Friday, 12 March 2010
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
In the summary they conclude: "Counterfeiting is the deliberate production of illegal, unsanctioned and mostly harmful medicines. Substandard drugs, by contrast, can be produced, sold and distributed by completely legitimate and authorised entities who are often unaware of their product being (or becoming) substandard."
I would be curious to see a follow up where they look at all the EU countries to see to what extent substandard drugs can reach patients also in the EU.
The full report can be found here.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
On the question if pharma activites benefits patients the rate that answered yes have gone from 74% to only 62% - minus 19 procentage in what the companies claims to be their mission! On the other hand there is an increase of 19 procentage in the trust in that pharmaceutical companies pricing policies benefit patients.
With regards to the trust in the companies information about their information only 18% in Eastern Europe find it trustworthy – same figure 18% when it comes to the companies information about their own R&D. Western Europe is less suspicious about the product information 30% finds it trustworthy while when it comes to information about their R&D the figure goes down to 23 %.
The trust in the monitoring of product safety post approval is also going down but only with 6 procentage.
More to be found here.
Monday, 22 February 2010
I find the statement from Sally Pipes of Pacific Research Institute most interesting: “President Obama's health care proposal released today in advance of the Feb. 25 Summit is more of the same. It relies on increased taxes, mandates, subsidies, and regulation. It will not achieve the goal of affordable, accessible, quality health care for all. The cost estimate will greatly exceed the $950 billion over 10 years and will most likely be in excess of $2 trillion. All Americans will face higher taxes and quality will decline. Ultimately, this will set the stage for a total government takeover of our health care system-a single-payer, Canadian style system which I believe is the long-term goal of the President."
If she is right and Obama and his advisors have decided to not form the new system based on the good Dutch reform experiences but on the single payer systems in Canada and the UK for example they really should rethink. The Health Consumer Powerhouse various index over healthcare systems outcome from a consumer point of view shows systematically over the years how the UK and Canada do deliver below the expected standard in Europe.
But its important to see and work with the problems of insurances. The Economist recently published a good overview that you find here.
Friday, 19 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Now its starting to become controversial, but as long as the information is objective and preferably given by physicians or the EU, most people will say that patients should indeed be allowed more information. Well it would be surprising if they did not agree that patients who are more health-literate will manage their health better.
So safe and informed that seems to be ok with all. But on March 2nd when then approximate same (Brussels isn’t that big) crowd gather again– I don’t think it will be so cosy..
The topic of German Liberal MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis Life Circle meeting is “Patient Empowerment – a New Paradigm in Disease Management”. This suggests the pressure is on. Discussion at the Life Circle event should be lively, at least if Member States’ representatives from the Member States show up and participate. Not necessarily always the case – when the EU Commission last year arranged a Patients’ Rights day the room where remarkably free from health attaches.
Patient empowerment was accepted without discussion as something positive until recently, but it seems that in the new financial situation governments have gotten cold feets since they assume it would mean higher costs. This questioning of if patient empowerment is really desirable seems to have begun at the Czech presidency conference on the financial sustainability of healthcare in 2009. During the panel debate on “Defining Sustainability in Health Systems, Josep Figueras, Director, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies as well as Melinda Medgyaszai, Secretary of State for Health Policy, Ministry of Health, Hungary. Maria de Belem Roseira Pina, Chair of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Asseimbleia da República, Portugal all questioned if all demands from patients should really be met.
After this at various conferences fears have been raised that patients may increasingly seek healthcare cross-border, thereby undermining the finances as well as the principle of the European equal (meaning everyone should have the same thing) and solidaric healthcare systems have been raised until finally the Spanjards managed to ensure a blocking minority for the Directive of Patients Rights on cross-border care. There are even fears that patients may demand treatments that are not good for them.
This might all be due to the financial crisis but I don’t think so. I think that its also because they really do not like to let go of the power they currently enjoy of being able to tell patients where and when and whether they should receive care. In Europe healthcare is still provided only to the extent that governments think it will benefit society as a whole. Think-tanks, a few politicians and the media might think differently, but they still have a long way to go to convince the Member States.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Friday, 29 January 2010
It is a winning concept – in Sweden a lot of the patient associations share a couple of corridors in the same building in Stockholm where also the main umbrella association have its head quarter. I would guess that over the year this have meant quite a lot with regards to information exchange and knowledge building for example for the smaller organizations with maybe only one person working for them.
Social networking seems to still need to be also taking place in real life or as some now say: outside of keyboard. Even if new media certainly enables and helps!
Monday, 25 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
Monday, 11 January 2010
This week Dalli will be heard/questioned in the EP. The answers will give us the first indication towards what direction the EU commission now will take in the area of public health. Ie if the changes will be more than formalities.
I'm quite sure most of the questions will be on the Directive for Patients Rights at cross border care but that also the Patient Information issue will be raised. One or two disease areas will most likely get their 15 min in the spotlight. Business as usual for the main part.
But what I hope someone will ask is:
- Will DG Sanco now take a real responsibility for the facilitation of a sustainable European health sector with empowered healthcare consumers trusted to really take their health into their own hands - instead of merely in all healthcare policy issues take the position that patients needs to be safeguarded and taken care off.
But that will most likely not happen. Not yet. Maybe next time. When the effects of the organisational changes starts to set in.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
So why didn’t the Swedish Presidency rock the boat more? I see 2 major reasons for this besides the Swedes being Swedes – more about this in my LÁnglophone column from early autumn.
1. The first reason being structural: We had a rather weak EU commission since it was to be exchanged, for long waiting to be relieved. Also it didn’t help that the presidency in waiting (Spain) was working quite active and successfully against several of the Swedish key issues. Not so surprising given that the ministers do come from very different political backgrounds. We saw this division for example in the case of the Directive for Patient Rights. More concretely this meant that the Spaniards managed to gather a blocking minority partly by promising better deals during their presidency. I.e. that under their presidency governments would not have to hand over so much power to the patients.
2. The second reason is the Swine Flu - Now I think media and politicians alike over reacted – 1. – but no matter what you think about the focus on this issue one cannot deny that quite a lot of time and efforts by key healthcare people have been spent on this unexpected situation, time and focus that otherwise would have been spent on other issues. But what I can see the efforts around the Swine Flu showed that when needed the international community really can act fast and united. If the learning’s from this is used well by those that would like to see more international co-operation on health issues we might see surprising effects in other areas as well.
In one area where for example I do not think Industry expected or even still really understands what happened with is the info issue, i.e. the EU commissions' proposal for Information to Patients – a part of the Pharmaceutical package. It seems like still some analysts believe that if only industry says ok to pre-vetting then the issue is solved. It’s because they have not understood that the Swedes themselves have put the very controversial issue on hold not because they agree with countries like Spain or France who thinks that the EU Commission proposal is to liberal – Quite the opposite. The issue the Swedes have with the proposal is that their constitution on freedom of speech doesn’t allow for censorship – governmental pre-vetting of information. If Industry thinks this is ok sort of doesn’t help:) Makes me happy that my government stands up for principles.
Still, in some areas there have been achievements: On MRSA for example where the commission now has been asked to come forward with a proposal for new incentives for development of new antibiotics by 2012. Small steps have also been taken concerning organ donation and alcohol policies etc. And on organ donation Spain will probably do all they can to find a solution. Spain is best in the class and will probably take the opportunity to shine in this field.
Another achievement that might be considered a big step forward for public health is the council recommendation to the Member States to introduce smoking restrictions in public places. But I think this was a given and something they just could not loose. I firmly believe that smoking will be banned altogether. It just doesn’t make sense to let people destroy their health and our common healthcare budgets by allowing smoking. Would we have an insurance system where the fees could be adapted to smoking habits or they paid themselves for their healthcare I think they should be free to kill themselves? But as long as I pay…
A small issue but with high importance is that the Swedes managed to get the council to support the European Court of Auditors very critical report on DG Sanco's work with the Public Health Program 2003-2007. This is important for all future efforts on EU level. Targets for all efforts needs to be set. There will have to be focus. We can already see the effects in for example the Work program published by DG Sanco in December. In short the budget is tighter, the focus clearer and the demands on output orientation higher. And warnings are raised that last year already only 20% of the applications where granted – this year it will be even fewer. Having previously seen some excellent but also some very, very basic work being funded in all possible and impossible areas I think this is great step forward.
On a final note most interesting is maybe that now finally the Swedes are free to say what they want. For quite some time also before their presidency they have been diplomatic in the hope that this would enable them being good chairmen. Now they will have no such restrictions and I would hope this means they can finally really take a stance for patient’s rights to choose etc. This is areas where the current government back home in Sweden has been very active. I would think the Spaniards will have quite a match with the Swedes since they do have quite different views on who should be in power in healthcare. Sometimes it's said that health issues we can all agree upon but when one looks at the Swedish and Spanish health policies it becomes quite obvious that one country thinks that the patients are taxpayers and should be in charge and that the other country believe that it’s the role of the government to ensure best possible care for all.