Monday 31 August 2009

The EP to decide what medicines that should be sold?

I might have misunderstood something – at least I hope I have. I thought EMEA approved what medicines that should be allowed to be sold in the EU. Nope its not that simple.

As from the 10th of July all Commission decisions on this issue, comming after the Member States vote, are to be submitted to the European Parliament for scrutiny. So the agreement is that the EP will get the draft decisions from the Commission on for example if a product should be allowed for sale or not and then the EP will have one month to object to this decision.

This is very strange for me – I’m used to a constitution where the political are strictly banned from having any input on individual cases. The political leadership are to be just leadership and then civil servants are ensuring the directions given via budgets and laws are implemented. This ensures a transparent system with predictability in the individual cases. And nepotism etc is avoided.

Is really the European commission performance so bad that the individual cases needs scrutiny by the European Parliament?

Saturday 8 August 2009

Not all is swine flu

It’s one thing that the policy level becomes affected by the media hysteria around the swine flu and invest enormous amount of time and money on planning, buying vaccines and administrating this vaccine. The EU helps by finally finding a role in healthcare and ECDC are driving the development with intense monitoring etc.

Now it seems like the professionals are also affected as there has been 2 cases, one with a deadly turn, of seriously ill patients that been given Swine Flu treatments and told to stay at home when they had meningitis. The scare has gone way too far. Could we instead get some of the focus on the real killers of Europe - we do quite well on cardiovascular care and cancer - but what about diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV?

Monday 3 August 2009

Who pays your doctor?

As I’m enjoying summer in the Swedish archipelago I don’t spend a lot of time blogging. But as I noticed the WSJ blog last week about the new Eli Lilly ”Faculty registry" I had to take some minutes from the sun for it.

For years I have had a problem understanding why pharma companies should not be allowed to communicate directly to the users of their products. Instead patients are supposed to relay on the info they get from their doctor and pharmacists. At the same time the companies are allowed to market in quite intense ways their products towards these groups. Now I don’t have an issue with this. But the hypocrisy around it all I do find a bit much. It’s getting better: new ethical rules limits doctors trips to luxury resorts with nice social programs paid for by the industry.

Still in Europe lots of thing is still not really transparent healthcare policy and practice and one of these things that is the industry system with”consultants”. Basically doctors (and other academic experts) and are paid to be experts for companies besides the salary they already have – in Europe quite often this goes upon what is supposed to be a full time salary decided upon by civil servants and paid by our tax monies. And if you thought this wasn’t much to discuss its worth noticing that the Brittish GSK recently decided cap upon these fees was placed at 150000 US dollars. Not that the pharmaceutical industry is paying the most - the known figures from 2007 in the US for the medtech industry where even higher with amounts up to one million US dollar per year for 40 physicians.

Now in the US there has been more movement on the ethical issues in this case compared to Europe partly due to the work of Republican Senator Chuck Grasseley. In February Pfizer declared their intent to start disclose the payments to consultants etc for 2009. We can expect the first annual report in early 2010. I think this is a really important initiative and hope that it soon will cover not only US payments as the Lilly Faculty registry seems to do!

But most obvious I think it would be if GSK as a UK company took a lead and also added Europe – not the least because in the Netherlands there are already investigations on GSKs payments to academics who sit on an advisory board that recently recommended a Glaxo vaccine. I would like to see all the payments to experts etc concerning their vaccines including the swine flu vaccine.