Posts

7 days in healthcare (15th-21st, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, after an extensive study it is detected that in approximately 1 in 10 cases of multiple sclerosis, antibodies are detected in the blood years before the disease develops. It may be too early to draw conclusions about the repercussions of this finding.

As far as Global Health is concerned, plans to expand vaccine production to Africa are facing serious problems. This follows Moderna’s halt to the construction of a €500 million plant in Kenya, although other schemes continue, such as plans including facilities in Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, carried out by BioNTech. Producing more vaccines in Africa is a moral imperative, says Martin Friede, head of vaccine research at the WHO. Article in Lancet Americas: Corruption, the greatest threat to healthcare. The cases in Peru as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) are discussed. It seems to be demonstrated, analyzing the experience of the few countries in which cannabis consumption has been legalized for a few years, that its legalization produces an increase in consumption in adults.

In terms of International Health Policy, initiatives in the USA against Chinese biotech companies will harm American patients. The Biosecure Act, which gained bipartisan support in Congress, proposes ending government contracts with biotechnology firms that have agreements with Chinese companies as clients or suppliers. This can greatly harm Americans, since, for example, BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) is the largest human DNA sequencer in the world and operates in 100 countries. Facilitates the manufacture of prenatal tests and other diagnostic tests. In the United Kingdom, Brexit has exacerbated drug shortages in pharmacies. This is deduced from the study by the Nuffield Trust, a prestigious British health think tank, which released a report analyzing the impact of Brexit on the health system. Also in the United Kingdom there is a report published by Reform, a British think tank committed to public services and the effectiveness of the State, proposing a major organizational change in the health system in England, trying to decentralize and abolishing NHS England, since it is considered that such a centralized system is preventing the transition towards a more preventive model, guided by local needs. The role of NHS England would be assumed by the Department of Health, although with a much more strategic vision. England (with around 57 million people) is considered to be the most centralized healthcare system in Europe, despite devolution processes in Scotland (5.4 million), Wales (3.1 million) and Northern Ireland (1.9 million). This same idea of the problems of large centralization of the NHS is held by Nigel Edwards, former chief executive of the Nuffield Trust and now senior associate. The House of Commons votes in favor of the ban on smoking for those born after 2009, despite the Prime Minister being met with the vote against more than 50 Conservative MPs. A controversial measure whose only precedent is New Zealand and was recently repealed by the new government. In Germany, a commission recommends that abortions be legalized in the first 12 weeks. Although abortions in Germany are regulated by a 153-year-old law and are illegal, in practice they are performed in an accessible way. It is assumed that the current law does not meet current international standards.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the Ministry of Health seems to focus on issues such as the promise to the white tides of the imminent hearing of the Public Management Law; while the Commissioner of Mental Health prepares a guide to reduce psychotropic drugs, as well as launching more than debatable messages such as that “long-term drug treatments kill. These people live 20 years less”, which generated a negative response from Dr. Celso Arango, from the Gregorio Marañón Hospital; or he tries to change the 24-hour guard system, without really knowing how; “green” anesthesia; announcements that possibly, as intended in the United Kingdom, smoking will be banned for those born after 2009; etc. It does not seem that a very varied set of measures on often non-central issues constitute a strategy of anything. While serious underlying problems remain or worsen, such as waiting lists, which in the Ministry’s last publication reached a record of more than 850,000 people waiting. The Zendal Hospital, of the Community of Madrid, admitted one patient a day in 2023. It is increasingly clear that this hospital, launched without a minimum professional planning project, is a clear example of bad governance. The WHO threatens to break its agreement with the Andalusian School of Public Health, if it is diluted in the new Health Institute. The entity warns that the bilateral agreement signed in 1989 is not “transferable” and that, unless it is negotiated again, the collaboration as an associated center “automatically comes to an end.” The plans of the Andalusian Government in relation to the prestigious Andalusian School of Public Health are difficult to understand. Possibly the most regrettable operation underway in public health in Spain at the moment are the famous OPEs. The temporality wants to be resolved with a system of coverage of places with regional calls, not participating in the selection of the professionals nor the hospitals nor, much less, the services involved. There is a risk of destroying the unit and the configuration of services, which in many cases took years to implement. A real shame, much to the taste of the more traditional administration and the unions. In this sense, the 76 service heads of the 12 de Octubre hospital, in Madrid, have sent a letter to the counselor, warning of the problem of disintegration of services as a consequence of the ongoing OPE. We must see, in this sense, the recommendations of the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction, in whose opinion approved in Congress, it is committed to a national qualification for medical specialists and local hiring. In the MIR call, the worst figure is for Family Medicine, with 459 free places in the first round, double that in 2023. Making family medicine attractive – salary-wise and professionally – is indeed an emergency to be addressed and a problem important. The newspaper El Mundo reports on the cheapest health insurance. From ASISA (25.99 euros/month) to Sanitas (51.68). In all of them, hospitalization is included, with some form of co-payment. If this isn’t a price war, it certainly looks a lot like one. It is not surprising then that there are problems with rates for hospitals and professionals.

As for Companies, internationally, funds are moving on the board of Novavax, after the failures in the covid vaccine. In terms of national information, AI will revolutionize mental health, generating 2.5 billion euros in Spain. The largest seller of flu vaccines in Spain entrusts its production to Rovi.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

  • USA
    • Philip Morris funds smoking cessation plans. Medscape, a leading health information company in the USA, is accused of having accepted courses financed by this company. The criticism is based on the tobacco industry’s history of ignoring scientific teachings about the dangers of tobacco (https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q830)
    • American movements against Chinese biotech companies will harm American patients. The Biosecure Act, which gained bipartisan support in Congress, proposes ending government contracts with biotechnology firms that have agreements with Chinese companies as clients or suppliers. This can greatly harm Americans, since, for example, BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) is the largest human DNA sequencer in the world and operates in 100 countries. Facilitates the manufacture of prenatal tests and other diagnostic tests (https://www.economist.com/leaders/2024/04/18/americas-moves-against-chinese-biotech-will-hurt-patients-at-home)
    • Scientists miss action against bird flu outbreaks on American farms (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/19/health/bird-flu-usda-cattle.html)

National health policy

  • Central government initiatives
    • Sánchez announces the expansion of the basic screening portfolio from 7 to 11 detectable diseases (https://www.diariomedico.com/medicina/politica/sanchez-anuncia-ampliacion-cartera-basica-cribado-neonatal-7-11- detectable-diseases.html)
    • García announces to the white tides the imminent hearing of the Public Management Law (https://diariofarma.com/2024/04/11/garcia-anuncia-a-las-mareas-blancas-la-inminente-audiencia- of-the-public-management-law-of-the-sns)
    • The Commissioner of Mental Health prepares a guide to reduce psychotropic drugs, as well as launches more than debatable messages such as that “long-term pharmacological treatments kill. These people live 20 years less”, which generated a negative response from Celso Arango , from the Gregorio Marañón Hospital (https://www.diariomedico.com/medicina/politica/comisionado-salud-mental-prepara-guia-prescripcion-psicofarmacos-reducer-consumo.html)

Companies

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

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, chatbots (devices that interact by text or voice with people based on artificial intelligence), are increasingly used in healthcare. In the UK, the NHS uses them in Primary Care to triage patients. One of the great challenges of future health management is determining what will be done in person and what will be done remotely, on the one hand; and what activity will require the presence of a professional or when these chatbots can be used. Possible important advance in the treatment of hepatitis type 1. The EMA is studying the first drug that has been shown to delay the onset of symptoms. There are 100,000 people affected in Spain, many of them children. Teplizumab, the active ingredient, prevents T lymphocytes from attacking the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin.

Regarding Global Health, France proposes to recognize abortion as a constitutional right. 60% of women live in countries where abortion is completely legal; and 40% do it in countries where it is prohibited or has restrictions. Not having access to a safe abortion can have negative health effects. Exodus of health personnel in sub-Saharan Africa, precisely the region of the world where health professionals in relation to the population move in lower numbers. Employment conditions are degraded locally, while developed countries, with strong demand, open their arms to them. This questions health personnel policies based on the importation of personnel from developing countries, as some in our country seem to sponsor. This is said with the utmost respect for the freedom of movement of citizens and workers.

Regarding International Health Policy, according to the magazine Health Affairs, negotiations continue to establish the price of 10 drugs for Medicare. This was contained in the Inflation Reduction Act and is, possibly, the most far-reaching healthcare measure approved during Biden’s presidency. The negotiations must be finalized by September 1, 2024, for implementation from 2026. The United Kingdom limits treatments to children and young people who want a sex change, in line with what has already been implemented by some countries. Northern Europe: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. The NHS will no longer offer puberty-blocking drugs. As for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, which produce permanent physical changes, they will be prescribed with extreme care. Macron’s government approves the euthanasia bill (although this word will be avoided, using the concept of “helping to die”). It is worth highlighting the profound debate carried out in France at all levels in relation to this text, with President Macron personally intervening on multiple occasions. Just like in Spain, where it was approved as if it were a modification of the VAT of a product, avoiding all types of reports. Simultaneously, a 10-year palliative care strategy is approved in France, endowed with 1.1 billion euros. In Italy, AGENAS was born, a hospital performance evaluation system, launched by the National Agency for Regional Health Services. How good it would be for Spain to implement a similar tool, which would allow us to compare the performance of our health institutions.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), it is important to highlight the achievements of our health system. According to a recent publication by “Our World in Data”, which analyzes mortality from all causes in all countries, in 2019 Spain is the third best-placed country in adjusted mortality per 100,000 inhabitants (385.9). Only surpassed by Iceland (348.0) and Japan (323.3). This concept of mortality adjusted for pathologies can be related to the activity of the health system. A great success, in which activity is Spain in the Top3? For her part, the minister of Health continues to announce measures. She promised a law limiting private management of public hospitals, using the well-known slogan “healthcare is not for sale, it is defended.” Although we understand that politicians speak for their parish and those statements may have a fireworks component, using that demagogic and populist slogan taken from the white tides is not up to the health debate that our country requires. On the other hand, what is proposed as a panacea is “direct public management”, as if there were not enough published evidence (Prof. JJ Martín, from the University of Granada, among others) of the worse performance of direct management compared to centers with legal personality and labor personnel. The document “Statistics of public health expenditure 2022” is published. Public health spending reached 92 billion euros in 2022, reaching 6.8% of GDP, increasing by 4.6% compared to the previous year. From 2019 to 2022, public health spending increased by 22.8%, an annual average of 7.6%. Although we are still far from the most advanced countries in Europe in terms of percentage of GDP dedicated to public health spending, there is no doubt that in this period the growth of this spending was much higher than that of general GDP. 40,000 healthcare workers will retire each year until 2026, according to a report by the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (SESPAS). Important planning problem that arises. Spain, the country in the world with the most Medical Schools per inhabitant. There are now a total of 50, just 15 years ago there were 28, a figure that will increase in the coming years: San Jorge (Zaragoza); Nebrija (Madrid), and Loyola (Seville). The Deans of Medicine and the State Council of Medical Students, against this exponential and uncontrolled growth. It is doubtful that Spain as a country has sufficient and trained teachers to attend to this proliferation of Medical Faculties, unless these faculties become a kind of academies for the MIR. This is an issue of the Faculties of Medicine where the desire for political success of some communities (which are responsible for approving the creation of a Faculty of Medicine) operates, together with the commercial interests of some private Universities. The IMAS Foundation proposes its digital medical history, which would incorporate data from different health and social service providers, information generated by portable digital devices, and measurements made by the patients themselves. And everything within reach of the user and the professionals with whom they want to share it. Excellent initiative, at the height of the times, a concept of history that is only for the public system, that only contains information from the health system and that cannot be carried by the patient and allows the use of it to whoever they consider, is no longer valid. your criteria. Santiago Dexeus, pioneer of sexual and reproductive health and one of the first defenders of the contraceptive pill in Spain, dies. He well deserves a national tribute.

As for Companies, internationally, Moderna is putting its plans to launch a vaccine plant in Africa on hold. In terms of national information, Sanitas increases its turnover by 12% and achieves record growth in policyholders after its agreement with Generali.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies

7 days in healthcare (April, 1st-7th, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, the report published by the French National Academy of Medicine on generative AI systems in health is worth highlighting. It makes 10 recommendations, the first of which is that all health professionals should be trained in the use of generative AI. It seems that anti-obesity medications (initially, anti-diabetes) may be the closest thing to a universal panacea. There is already evidence that they can have benefits in many other diseases: heart, kidney, liver, brain (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), as well as other organs.

With regard to Global Health, concern continues over the difficulties of advancing the Pandemic Treaty. The Treaty aims to prevent governments, institutions and populations from the errors of the covid-19 pandemic. In this sense, a more than interesting article by Mariana Mazzucato on aspects related to innovation, intellectual property (IP), public/private collaboration and financing. The Lancet speaks out in an editorial against the use of starvation (the total lack of food and mass famine) as a weapon of war, as we have seen in the war in Sudan and currently in Gaza, where Israeli action is taking on dimensions of destruction of Gaza, with the consequent health and humanitarian problems. Prostate cancer cases will double between 2020 and 2040.

Regarding International Health Policy, the French Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, proposes a fine of five euros for those who miss scheduled medical appointments. But possibly the most far-reaching news is President Petro’s actions in healthcare in Colombia, with the intervention of the two largest EPS (Health Promotion Entities). This breaks the approach of the Colombian health system based since 1993 on Law 100, which established public/private collaboration through the EPS, companies that received public aid and were in charge of providing health services to their insured population. There is no doubt that the proliferation of populist governments in Latin America is a threat against any form of public/private collaboration in healthcare, as is also the case in Chile where ISAPRES (private insurers that receive public aid) are also threatened. The universalization of health coverage – something absolutely defensible and one of the great advances of our time, today in full expansion – leads some to interpret this as a monopoly of health care by the State and even a colonization of the management model by the traditional Administration, thus breaking a desirable freedom of choice, as well as a certain competition for the coexistence of different management models.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System unanimously supports the Comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking. However, the Plan is fundamentally a roadmap and a declaration of intentions, some of which will have to be materialized through laws, with the uncertainty regarding the approval of new laws generated by the situation of the current legislature. The plan aims to increase smoke-free spaces (not specified); avoid promoting tobacco products; access to smoking cessation programs; equate electronic cigarettes with conventional tobacco; and, increase taxes on tobacco. The most controversial thing may be to equate electronic cigarettes with conventional tobacco, since the risks and damage to health are not comparable. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine states that there is sufficient evidence to show that switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes reduces exposure to tobacco toxins, reduces respiratory symptoms and reverses physiological changes related to smoking cigarettes. The Government’s Regulatory Plan for 2024 announces four laws in the health field: 1. statute-framework; 2. law of guarantees; 3. alcohol consumption prevention law; and, 4. law on public management of health services. Same comment regarding the uncertainty regarding the approval of laws. Among these laws does not appear that of the State Public Health Agency, already being processed in Parliament. Of note is the meeting at the Ministry of Health of a representation of the same with representatives of doctors who work for health insurers. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, it was not common until now for the Ministry of Health to enter into the problems of private healthcare. But welcome if there is a change in this regard.

As for Companies, internationally, drug shortages have recently reached unprecedented levels in several European countries and last year reached a ten-year high in the USA. Regarding national information, Grifols admits changes in its debt level and Recoletas is expanding to several regions through its reproductive business.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies

7 days in healthcare (March 18th-24th, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, the transplant to a man of a genetically modified pig kidney stands out, a medical milestone that could lead to dialysis being declared obsolete, which would be an extraordinary advance and an improvement in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of patients, currently dependent on the machine several times a week for their survival. Also notable is the beginning of a clinical trial on a vaccine for tuberculosis. The current BCG vaccine offers protection to infants and young children, but does not protect adults and adolescents from pulmonary tuberculosis. If the results are good, this vaccine can be transformative.

As far as Global Health is concerned, a study warns of serious declines in birth rates globally, which will mean that by 2050 it will fall below population replacement, which will have important social and labor changes.

Regarding International Health Policy, a great paradox in the USA, although abortion is prohibited in 14 states and restricted in many others, in 2023 there were more abortions than ever, many of them non-instrumental and through the abortion pill, already responsible of 60% of abortions. China is facing a population decline, a phenomenon that has already begun. The one-child policy, in force for 36 years, is only one of the causes of this phenomenon. The European Union is advancing in the approval of pharmaceutical legislation, contemplated with reluctance by both the EFPIA and Medicines for Europe (the two large European pharmaceutical associations). The Lancet sees the upcoming European elections as an opportunity to put health policy higher on the EU agenda.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), three important initiatives of the Ministry of Health: anti-smoking plan, modification of the medical guard regime and waiting lists. In all three cases there may be problems due to the powers and regulations of the autonomous communities. From the point of view of the regions, the OPE of Asturias stands out, which brings together 19,000 candidates. Although logically, temporality was and is a serious problem of public healthcare, which needed a solution, the way to do it through macro-OPE’s (consolidating the position in property, and with hegemony of the administrative and union logic, above the professional and autonomy of organizations) does not seem to be the best. This type of mass examination is more reminiscent of previous calls for the “military service”, when it was in force, than the professional selection for complex organizations, in which the professional qualification, the needs of the different organizations, the projects of the services, etc. should be taken into account.

As for Companies, on an international level, China is seen as the large market for anti-obesity drugs. Bayer wants to renew its portfolio, entering into cell and genetic therapies. As for Spain, the CNMV has released its report on Grifols, with several objections to its accounts. Faes Farma is preparing to grow in Latin America. For its part, DKV, the health insurer, wants to concentrate on group insurance.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies

7 days in healthcare (March 4th-11th, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, the possibility of making replicas of fetal organs stands out, which could facilitate fetal treatments without putting the pregnancy at risk. The Lancet publishes an editorial and several articles on menopause, a natural state in the aging process of women, often overmedicalized. FDA delays approval of Lilly’s long-awaited Alzheimer’s drug.

As far as Global Health is concerned, there was a shortage of cholera vaccines, at a time with many outbreaks, even in countries where it had been eradicated. Great absolute growth in the global figures of the scourge of genital mutilation in women, especially in Africa, but also in Asia and the Middle East. First published evidence that nanoplastics harm human health. Big problem with the lack of health professionals in Africa, which is proposed to be compensated as a quick solution with community health workers.

Regarding International Health Policy, in the United States President Biden gave his fourth and final State of the Union address. Surprising was a particularly energetic and mentally agile Biden, who maintained the interest of a vibrant speech during its more than 60-minute duration, even interacting with the Republican seats. Much of his speech was dedicated to health, undoubtedly a star issue in the next elections: the price of medicines; women’s reproductive rights, abortion and in vitro fertilization; the extension of Obamacare, a law he defended, during his term; and care for the elderly, both at home and in nursing homes, were the topics discussed. In France, President Macron has decided to make abortion a constitutional right, surprising the enormous support obtained on the right and left in the National Assembly: 780 votes in favor compared to only 72 against.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), In its “Declaration of Córdoba” the Popular Party presents 4 proposals regarding health. The rural environment is left without doctors, according to the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine, saying that of the 11,000 rural doctors, half will retire in the next 5 years and it does not seem easy the arrival of new doctors. A specific health problem of one of the great gaps in our country: that of the rural-urban world. The Minister of Health makes two big promises: the decarbonization of the health system and the creation of an observatory on corruption in health (in response to problems with the purchases of masks and equipment during covid). Interesting, but we will have to see if these promises become realities. The PP will bring the ELA law to Congress.

As for Companies, at the international level, it is increasingly clear that the Novo Nordisk-Lilly duopoly in addressing obesity will be broken, giving way to other agents, given the large number of clinical trials on the subject. According to IQVIA, pharmaceutical companies will lose 6 billion a year until 2028 due to the expiration of many patents, converting many of these medications to generics and biosimilars. This loss will try to be compensated with the launch of new drugs, since it is estimated that between 2024 and 2028 there will be 175 new launches, especially in the field of oncology and neurology. Regarding national news, Grifols has revalued on the Stock Market, after the publication of its audited accounts without qualifications. Loss of 600 million of the insurance companies that operate in MUFACE (Adeslas, Asisa and DKV) during the period of validity of the current three-year agreement. It is evident that public/private collaboration is unviable if it condemns the participating companies to losses without any prospects.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies

 

7 days in healthcare (February 26th-Mars 3rd, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, certain advances stand out in the search for a treatment for multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects 1.8 million globally and for which at this time there is no effective therapy. As announced by the president of the Spanish Society of Nephrology, the new drugs will allow many cases of dialysis and transplant to be avoided.

As far as Global Health is concerned, the most worrying thing is the poor perspectives observed regarding the pandemic treaty, the objective that the WHO had proposed for 2024. The obstacles are the accumulation of vaccines and the sharing of knowledge about them, problems of rich countries and companies, respectively. The Lancet warns about the need to strengthen cervical cancer screening, which continues to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Warning about ultra-processed foods (cereals, protein bars, soft drinks, and fast food) linked to 32 harmful health effects, including increased risk of vascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, mental illness and premature death.

In terms of International Health Policy, a very serious problem with fentanyl in the United States, which in the last twelve months until September 23 had caused 105,000 deaths in that country. Until now, the policy was aimed primarily at preventing the entry of drugs; some extremist politicians had even proposed invading Mexico to put an end to the gangs. With the current Administration, efforts are directed more towards discouraging its use and treating addicts. Big problem for Republicans in the USA with the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court to declare frozen embryos as “extra-uterine children”, with all the obstacle that this has for the popular procedure of in vitro fertilization, so widespread in the United States as in other developed countries. This Alabama decision seems like a gift to Democrats: “First it was abortion, now it is in vitro fertilization and then it will be birth control,” warned Hillary Clinton. Even Trump was forced to distance himself from this decision. In France, the National Assembly is putting pressure on the pharmaceutical industry regarding the shortage of medicines, forcing laboratories to have a four-month reserve of “medicines of high therapeutic interest.” In order to strengthen drug R&D, the European Union is considering “giving away” a year’s patent to those drugs whose research has been carried out in Europe.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the current Ministry of Health, unlike previous Ministries, wants to get involved in the problems of the SNS, while the previous ones wanted to get involved as little as possible, with the argument that “everything was transferred” . This attitude seems, in principle, positive for the SNS. Another thing is priorities. It seems that among these are the suppression of 24-hour medical guards; addressing waiting lists; and, the State Public Health Agency. Regarding the first issue, the challenge is formidable, since medical guards, regardless of whether they are necessary or not, have become an important salary supplement. It is impossible to address this issue without considering the complements of medical personnel, which is no small issue. Regarding waiting lists, aware that their management corresponds to the communities, it seems that they want to establish a kind of “best practices”, with economic incentives for the communities that apply them. Not an easy matter either. And as for the State Public Health Agency, the ministry seems to have reached an agreement with the PNV and Junts, for the withdrawal of their amendments to the law. Let us hope that this agreement does not go against the strength and operation of the new Agency. For its part, SESPAS, the Spanish Society of Public Health, has published an interesting document on the characteristics that this body should have, with 11 very interesting recommendations. The Economic and Social Council of Spain (CES) publishes a report on the health system. Although the report is well prepared, it is difficult to find anything new in it that has not already been said or any innovative proposal. Taking advantage of the day of rare diseases (although it is now preferred to call them minority) the Spanish Association of Orphan and Ultra-orphan Drug Laboratories releases a report on the situation of these drugs in Spain. Much has been improved, although there is still room to advance. Both the La Paz hospital in Madrid and the Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona launch special units to treat this type of illness.

As for Companies, on an international level, the Danish Zealand Pharma, a new relevant player in the field of obesity. On the national level, Viamed will launch a comprehensive unit for women in its hospital in Tarragona. New punishment in the Grifols Stock Market.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

  • 24 hour guards
    • The Ministry of Health wants to end 24-hour medical guards this term. The Ministry will study the legislative framework that the autonomous communities can apply. The aim is to organize it by hospitals and without losing salary, since the guards can represent up to a quarter of the professionals’ salary. The challenge is formidable, since it must be implemented by the autonomous communities, it involves a reorganization of hundreds of services, an increase in staff and addressing the complements of medical personnel (https://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/sanidad-quiere-finish-medical-guards-24-hours-we-will-give-you-answer-legislature_1_10957897.html)
  • Economic and Social Council (CES) report on the health system
    • Report from the CES on the health system. Among the recommendations it supports public health and prevention; specify and update the SNS service portfolio; make Primary Care the true axis of the system; confront waiting lists; strengthen the comprehensive mental health model; enhance the quality of pharmaceutical provision; promote the planning and reinforcement of human resources of the SNS; reinforce patient participation; contribution of the private for-profit and non-profit sector; improvement of system management and evaluation (https://www.ces.es/documents/10180/5299170/INF_012024.pdf)

Companies

 

 

7 days in healthcare (January 29th-February 4th, 2024)

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, the use of gene therapy based on CRISPR for the treatment of hereditary angioedema should be highlighted. Great debate regarding Elon Musk’s brain chip, in general the scientific community has expressed serious reservations about this initiative. Beginning of the first trials with mRNA-based therapy in cancers of different types in the United Kingdom.

As far as Global Health is concerned, the beginning of routine malaria vaccination can without exaggeration be considered a historic event, given the high mortality of this disease in children in Africa. The WHO warns about the prospects for great growth in cancer globally and the notable differences in its prognosis, especially in breast and cervical cancer.

In terms of International Health Policy, the NHS England initiative is especially interesting, allowing pharmacies to prescribe certain medications and carry out some care practices, which is expected to result in a decrease of 10 million primary care consultations. The results of this experience deserve to be followed, since it could be part of the solution to Primary Care also in Spain. EU document on cancer in Europe, highlighting inequities in its approach.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), it is worth continuing to comment on the intervention of the Minister of Health in the Health Commission of Congress. Although now it seems that nothing is important, the truth is that this intervention is one of the most relevant of any minister who reaches her position. The intervention has some lights and many shadows. Lights: recovery of a certain will for strategic direction of the SNS and decision to address the great problem of waiting lists (this is notable, since it contrasts with other ministers, who used to rather assume that everything was transferred and , therefore, the role of the Ministry was minimal). Shadows: very negative, offensive and unacceptable mentions of private healthcare, with arguments and quotes that are intellectually inconsistent and lacking rigor; staunch defense of direct public management, compared to other forms of public management; Public Health Agency, apart from doubts about its real content (no one hides the fact that the Agency does not make the influential nationalist parties very happy), the Ministry of Health gets out of the way to decide the location, handing over the baton to the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Democratic Memory, as if it were not also a health decision; Framework Statute, where are the negotiations with professionals?; medicines, no mention of the Strategic Plan of the pharmaceutical industry (in which the President of the Government himself had committed himself); Oral health, where is the economic memory? What care model will be followed? Is the inclusion of glasses in public provision, given the financial strains of the system, a reasonable priority? Is there prior consensus with other agents on this measure? In another order of things, in the Valencian Community the reversion to the public sector of the Denia concession has been completed and that of Manises will soon be granted, something to which the Administration has every right, once the concession contract has ended. The mentions of the concept of “expropriation”, used by some concessionaire company, are extemporaneous. Now, the official press release from the Ministry announces a very notable increase in staff in that hospital in Denia. Logically, uncontrolled growth in health spending, if it is not justified, cannot be the public alternative to concessions. Notable growth in the price of health insurance premiums in Spain, although its price must probably continue to be low, compared to other European countries. Something to analyze.

As for Companies, on an international level, Novo Nordisk was surprised by the great demand in Europe for medicines against obesity. In terms of national news, the pharmaceutical distributor HEFAME has experienced great growth in recent years and is considering expanding throughout Spain. At Grifols, the board is considering excluding the family from the company’s strategic decisions.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

  • European Union
    • Document on inequalities in the EU regarding cancer: “Beating cancer inequalities in the EU” Emphasis on prevention and early detection (https://www.oecd.org/health/beating-cancer-inequalities-in-the-eu -14fdc89a-en.htm)
    • The EU fined the pharmaceutical industry 780 million for anti-competitive practices between 2018 and 2022 (https://www.elespanol.com/invertia/observatorios/sanidad/20240130/ue-multo-millones-industria-farmaceutica-practicas-anticompetitivas /828667294_0.html#:~:text=The%20European%20Commission%20investigated%20one, euros%20for%20the%20laboratories%20involved.)
    • Brussels calls to promote vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B throughout the EU (https://elpais.com/sociedad/2024-01-31/bruselas-llama-a-impulsar-las -vaccines-against-human-papillomavirus-hpv-and-hepatitis-b-across-the-eu.html#:~:text=Brussels%20has%20launched%20this%20Wednesday, the%20Hepatitis%20B%20(HBV).)

National health policy

  • Appearance of the Minister of Health before the health commission of the Congress of Deputies, on January 26, 2024
    • Lights and shadows in the appearance. Lights: recovery of a certain will for strategic direction of the SNS and willingness to address the great problem of waiting lists. Shadows: very negative and unacceptable mentions of private healthcare, with intellectually inconsistent arguments and quotes; staunch defense of direct public management, compared to other forms of public management; Public Health Agency, the ministry gets out of the way to decide the location, as if it were not also a health decision; Framework Statute, where are the negotiations with professionals and patient associations?; medications, no mention of the Strategic Plan of the pharmaceutical industry; Oral health, where is the economic memory?; Is the inclusion of glasses in public provision, given the financial strains of the system, a reasonable priority? Is there prior consensus with other agents on this measure? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlGfsMiuQDo)

Companies

 

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

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, highlight the article by Dr. Topol, famous American cardiologist and doctor, who says how generative AI can contribute to significantly reducing medical errors, which cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year in the United States and around the world. An initial cancer screening seems to be making its way through a simple blood test, taking advantage of the sharing of certain molecular characteristics in all cancers. The University of Gothenburg in Sweden is developing a blood test for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

With regard to Global Health, an editorial in The Lancet refers to the economic problems in low- and middle-income countries in addressing health expenditures, given the great weight of debt interest, which is why it proposes as a solution its condonation. The first mass malaria vaccination begins in Africa. Universal healthcare in Tanzania. Universal coverage, long exclusive to Europe and high-income countries (with the exception of the United States), is now spreading to developing countries as well.

In terms of International Health Policy, the next American elections in 2024 already show what could be the priority issues during the campaign for Democrats and Republicans. For the former, reducing the high price of prescription drugs and women’s health (with pro-choice options); for Republicans, overcoming covid-19 and drug overdose. It does not seem that the repeal of Obamacare, which has reached a record of 21 million affiliates, is going to be a priority in the Republican campaign.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), presentation by Minister Mónica García of her priorities in the Congressional health commission. Laws against alcohol consumption in young people and to protect direct public management in public healthcare. Announcement of the legalization of cannabis and increase in the portfolio of services in “dental” and “visual health”. The imminent approval of the Public Health Agency and the reform of the Framework Statute in 2024 are announced. In relation to this last point, it was announced that negotiations are being carried out with the unions and the communities. And what about the professionals? Don’t they have anything to say on this topic? Important announcement by the Ministry of the genetic portfolio of the National Health System, to be launched gradually throughout 2024. Health maps are being reformed and simplified in several communities: Aragón, Cantabria, Valencian Community and Asturias . It is striking that the reforms are promoted by PP governments in the first three communities, while the reform in Asturias, sponsored by a PSOE government, is opposed by the PP. Catalonia promotes the discussion of a National Health Pact. Among other issues, the elimination of the statutory personnel regime is proposed. Possibly this change cannot be made legally from an autonomous community, but the much-needed idea and the opening of the discussion are welcome.

As for Companies, at the international level, Novo Nordisk and Lilly find themselves with a new player in their battle regarding obesity: the Danish biotech company Zeland Pharma. When it comes to national news, the problems with Grifols continue. Interesting article in Expansión on professionalization and corporate governance in family businesses.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

  • USA
    • Article in JAMA: Focus on health problems in the 2024 American elections. It seems that health care is going to be very present in the American elections. Democrats’ issues are lowering prescription drug prices and women’s health (with pro-choice options); while the Republican issues are overcoming covid-19 and drug overdoses and border control policies in this regard. Despite Trump’s criticism of the Obamacare law, repealing the law is unlikely to be made a campaign priority (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2814471)
    • Obamacare enrollment boom, reaching 21 million in 2024 (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/25/us/politics/obamacare-open-enrollment.html)

National health policy

Companies

 

 

7 days in healthcare (January 15th-21st, 2024)

covidoriginandChina,

 

Summary

From the point of view of Biomedicine, it is worth highlighting the fact that in China they created the first cloned monkey, which introduces us to the ethical debate of the possible cloning of human beings. Also the fact of the discovery of biomarkers that allow persistent covid to be diagnosed.

As far as Global Health is concerned, it is confirmed that cyber attacks, whose frequency is only growing, are one of the greatest dangers to health systems, which is forcing governments to reinforce security standards.

In terms of International Health Policy, as demonstrated by the American Cancer Society, mortality from cancer is falling in the United States, due to the combined effect of less smoking, earlier diagnoses and more effective treatments. An article in the New York Times summarizes the six reasons why medicines are so expensive in the United States (twice as much as in other high-income countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom), perhaps the most important being the absence of a centralized price negotiation body, something about to be overcome, given the upcoming Medicare negotiation on these prices. A group of Nobel Prize winners and scientists are addressing the EU to ask for less rigidity in the regulations on genetic modification, in order to protect crops. The ECDC launches RespiCast, a new center for the prevention of respiratory diseases.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the tripledemic is on the decline, at least as far as the pressure on hospitals is concerned. Although it may seem like an anecdote, the situation of the pediatric ICU in La Paz is a metaphor for human resources policy in the health sector. This ICU remains closed, due to the loss of all medical staff, as a result of the judicial decision that reinstates a former head of the Unit in his position. The Statute leads to the situation where the actions of a single person can put a service, a hospital, a manager, a regional minister and the Ministry in check, indefinitely and without anything happening. It is an extreme case, but it is something that happens every day. In this way, centers that claim to be companies cannot be managed. In the field of transplants, Spain has been a world leader for 32 years in a row.

As for Companies, internationally, Lilly’s leadership among pharmaceutical companies seems destined to last. At the national level, problems at Grifols, which call into question the future of this company, as well as the control by its founding family. Losses by Ribera in its Galician hospitals.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies

 

 

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

 

Summary

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.

Biomedicine

Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

Companies