In total 130 innovative drugs will be added in the national health scheme (Gesy) by the end of January, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said on Tuesday.
The minister said he has requested the pharmaceutical advisory committee and the health insurance organisation (HIO) to include the innovative medicines to benefit patients.
“We cannot have our patients be second-class citizens and not have access to these innovative medicines,” he said during his visit at the Monadika Hamogela NGO for rare diseases.
The HIO was given enough time to integrate these drugs in the system so “there are no more excuses” Hadjipantela said, noting the deadline for the drugs’ inclusion was set for January 31. This will be communicated in writing by the ministry later on Tuesday.
If the deadline is not met, Hadjipantela said the health ministry will issue another instruction for their inclusion.
He added that he has been notified of some things that were ‘absurd’ concerning the approval process of those drugs. He explained that doctors on the drug committee for named claims for drugs excluded from the list of reimbursed medicines approve the claims immediately. However, when the same doctors on the drugs advisory committee in another organisation claim for the same drugs, those arrive after several months.
The instructions that will be given to the HIO on Tuesday, include that whenever a new drug is integrated into the health system, the health ministry and the federation of Cyprus patients’ association (Osak) will be informed.
Earlier this year, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) ranked Cyprus 23rd among 39 countries in Europe on patient accessibility to innovative medicines for the period 2017-2020.
According to the EFPIA, the island has just 45 out of a total of 160 innovative medicines approved and available to the public, while the average is 74 out of 160 medicinal products being available, that is 46 per cent.
Over the summer, MPs in the house health committee piled pressure on the health insurance organisation (HIO) to address patients’ concerns over pharmaceuticals offered through the general health scheme (Gesy).
The issue of innovative drugs is handled by a special committee that was set up in 2016 before Gesy. This committee, which operates under the permanent secretary of the health ministry and reviews requests for innovative drugs, has seen its budget soar from €3m in 2016 to €80m in 2022.