7 days in healthcare (January 8th-14th, 2024)



From the point of view of Biomedicine, it is worth highlighting the first results of the genomic studies of tumors carried out by the British public company, created in Cameron’s time, Genomics England, which will allow new therapeutic orientations in tumors. Certain hopes for patients with schizophrenia, a disease with a limited therapeutic arsenal. A Phase III trial gives promising results. It is expected that the drug can be approved in 2024 by the FDA. The WHO organizes a World Forum on Clinical Trials, establishing the four pillars for their development, which is of special interest to Spain, which is a power in clinical trials, a leader in Europe and only surpassed globally by the United States, China, India and Iran.

As far as Global Health is concerned, the WHO warns that a new pandemic will arrive and it will be more deadly.

In terms of International Health Policy, the growth of total health expenditures in the USA returns to pre-pandemic levels. They rose 4.1% in 2022, while in 2020 they had risen 10.6%. The New England Journal of Medicine publishes an interesting article on the “financialization” (non-financing) of health in the United States, distinguishing this from “corporatization” (the role of large corporations) or “privatization” (greater role of the private sector). “Financialization” refers to the greater role of financial or private equity companies in the healthcare world, in many cases as direct owners of healthcare companies, especially pharmaceutical and insurance companies. The effects of this phenomenon are not yet well analyzed. The FDA approves 55 drugs in 2023, up 48% from the previous year. Of those 55, 28 were intended for rare diseases. The Economist analyzes in an article that the British health system is acquiring a shape similar to that of the 1930s, with a large role of private companies and charities, when Aneurin Bevan created the NHS. It should be noted that the so-called generation Z (between 18 and 24 years old) are the largest users of private healthcare. The EU, through HERA, the body created as a result of Covid, will launch a vaccine development center.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the Ministry of Health agreed, in the face of the growth of the tripledemic, two measures: the first, the so-called “auto-sick leaves” (sick leaves of up to three days without prior medical report, by the exclusive decision of the worker); and, the second, the mandatory nature of masks in health centers. Both very controversial measures. The first was due to disagreements with the unions, employers and within the government itself, which speaks of improvisation on a very sensitive issue and which forced it to be postponed indefinitely. The second, with opposition from several communities and legal problems in its design. Measures continue to be taken to address problems such as pandemics without the expert advice of an organization such as the Public Health Agency, which has not yet been created, which could possibly have avoided or mitigated some of the problems that the Ministry has encountered. The Catalan government, faced with a growth in pharmaceutical spending, intends to control it with several measures. One of the requests is the transfer of the powers of the Interministerial Price Commission, in order to be able to negotiate the price of medicines with the laboratories at the community level. An issue that could threaten the necessary cohesion of the National Health System. Budgeted public health spending amounts to 89 billion in 2023, 29% more than in 2019, before the pandemic. The unions propose to the Ministry changes in the human resources policy and in the Framework Statute. Given the well-known aversion of unions to differentiation and individual and collective recognition, basic needs of the system, surely the approaches will not be very innovative.

In the field of Companies, on an international level, Goldman Sachs is making its debut in health, with a fund of 650 million dollars, in a line that seems to reinforce the idea of the “financialization” of health, discussed in the article this week from the New England Journal of Medicine. When it comes to national news, the highlight is the upheaval at Grifols, which has lost 3.2 billion euros in five days. After the Gotham Research City report, the company has not been able to convince shareholders of its reliability.


Global Health

International health policy

National health policy