7 days in healthcare (April 22nd-28th, 2024)



From the point of view of Biomedicine, AI makes it possible to detect the origin of metastatic cancer. An algorithm examines images of metastatic cells to identify the primary location of the tumor. Currently the origin of up to 5% of all tumors cannot be identified. If this is confirmed, the concept of “metastasis of unknown origin” will disappear. Many mental illnesses have body triggers. Evidence is accumulating that a host of infections can activate conditions such as obsessive-compulsive syndrome, anxiety, depression and even psychosis. This finding can improve many psychiatric treatments. The EU approves a new antibiotic to track the growth of resistant bacteria. It will be used in pneumonia and urinary tract infections, representing an advance in the treatment of these bacteria. Health politicians are trying to introduce incentives for the development of these antibiotics linked to bacterial resistance.

Regarding Global Health, new publication of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies: health in all policies. The philosophy is to move from health in all policies to health through all policies. Smoking bans are coming. Countries are moving forward to ban tobacco use and vaping, which can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The WHO estimates that tobacco use costs the world $1.4 trillion each year in health spending and reduced productivity. The British initiative to ban tobacco consumption for those born after 2004 is very ambitious and would mean creating a smoke-free generation by 2040. Vaping is already more common in 2023 than smoking among young people, and its damage goes beyond lung and brain damage, according to a report from the University of Glascow, commissioned by WHO-Europe. Nicotine can have long-lasting effects on the adolescent brain. The upcoming ban on disposable vapes, for example in the United Kingdom, Belgium, France or Spain may not be enough. The WHO is concerned about the alarming consumption of alcohol and electronic cigarettes among adolescents, between 11 and 15 years old.

Regarding International Health Policy, National plan on waiting lists in Sweden. Waiting times have always been a problem in that country, with great disparities between regions and between different parts of healthcare. The plan seeks to identify areas with excess capacity in the country, allowing faster access to those waiting. The EU presents the Critical Medicines Alliance as a response to shortages. It is a consultative body to identify priorities for action and propose solutions. The Alliance will last for five years. On the part of Spain, among other entities, there will be the General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges, Farmaindustria and the Spanish Society of Hospital Pharmacy. The European Parliament approves the European Health Data Space (EEDS), which will allow the primary (for care) and secondary (for research) use of health information. Secondary use for commercial purposes will not be permitted. Among companies, there is great concern, since they are above all concerned about, for example, “the voluntary acceptance of users.”

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the competition for doctors to be permanent threatens the large hospitals in Madrid (and, without a doubt, in other communities). In the Community of Madrid there are more than 6,000 specialists who are involved in these stabilization processes. Logically, the problem is not stabilization, but two circumstances: that the solution is to transform the interim workers into statutory ones (wouldn’t it have been possible to favor an indefinite employment contract?) and, above all, that the selection is made without the intervention or of the hospital managements, nor of the services, nor of the professionals. A telematic system will be used, in which vacancies will appear to choose from. That method is incredible in the 21st century. Health outbreak against the norm that would allow a Basque MIR, by the highest representation of doctors and nursing. What is considered an unprecedented attack on the fairness of the SNS. The homogeneity in obtaining degrees and the mobility of professionals between the National Health System seemed to be one of the attributes of our health system. The Valencian Community will replace 1,800 professionals in Manises (who will be treated as statutory) and will create 400 new positions. It is difficult to understand that the statutory regime is the solution and that 400 more professionals are needed to do the same. The IDIS publishes its annual report, which is now called “Private Health Sector Observatory 2024”, maintaining the subtitle of “adding value”. This report is a very relevant contribution to the knowledge of a part of the health sector, such as the private part. Some criticize IDIS by saying that they are judge and party for the publication of this report. But it is true that the private health sector before the appearance of these IDIS reports was the great unknown and, furthermore, no one takes away from other institutions (call it the Ministry of Health, the Association of Health Economics, the Spanish Society of Public Health, etc.) to analyze and publish analysis on the private sector. This work of IDIS has come to fill a void. Farmaindustria denounces the Andalusian Health Service and the Andalusian Colleges of Pharmacists for favoring generics. The agreement between these entities involves the promotion of the dispensing of generics in pharmacies when they are prescribed by active ingredient. Farmaindustria rejects this agreement, considering it discriminatory towards the brand. They argue that branded medicines are in Spain at the same price as generic ones. The latter is true, but it is no less true that this constitutes an exception in Europe, which is more concerned with the promotion of generics and the promotion of companies related to their manufacturing and launch.

As for Companies, at the international level, an important article in the New England Journal of Medicine considers the existence of the free market in the pharmaceutical world a myth. Europe is falling below the USA and China in pharmaceutical innovation, warns the CEO of AstraZeneca. Clinical trials on obesity are growing by 68% and laboratories are preparing 124 drugs. Regarding national information, Domus Vi is considering divesting itself of the Mentalia division for more than 100 million euros. The anti-smoking plan threatens an investment by Philip Morris in Spain of up to 1.2 billion, based on the government plan to equate the taxation of new devices to traditional cigarettes. Caser boosts its dental clinic business with more capital, expanding by 4.25 million euros. This will undertake the opening and purchase of eight new dental clinics.


Global Health

International health policy

National health policy