Radomir Cerović, President of the FIC Pharma Industry Committee (Roche d.o.o.)
Together We’re Stronger
Through cooperation established with the Task Force of the Serbian Government, the FIC Pharmaceutical Industry Committee endeavours to contribute to the strengthening of all aspects of the health system, which isn’t only an existential saviour for the population during epidemiological crises, but also a precondition for every form of progress for the country.
Whether there is a crisis period or a regular situation, the availability of modern, high-quality medicines is the primary goal of all activities of the Pharma Industry Committee. Thus, when we conclude that there were no disruptions to the supply of the medicines market during the COVID-19 pandemic we can clearly conclude that our member companies fulfilled the social role additionally assigned to them. Now, major tremors also provide an opportunity for major changes, in order for the healthcare system to elevate its ability to resist future crises. In that sense, the basic conclusion to this crisis should be that the state must no longer allow itself to make any kind of savings on healthcare. That’s because when all the resources of the health system are overstretched, then their quality and efficiency become key to the system’s functioning.
For this very reason – although we understand that the country’s economic resources will be quite depleted once the pandemic ends – we believe that the trend of additional investments in raising the quality of public health services will continue. Here we primarily mean a continuation of the introduction of new innovative and generic therapies on the List of Medicines, because we shouldn’t forget that the Republic Health Insurance Fund (RHIF), with the full understanding and support of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance, already made innovative therapies for lung cancer and multiple sclerosis available to patients at the beginning of 2020. It is a given – for the benefit of all market actors, including the RHIF – that it is essential to ensure the continuous and systemic funding of new therapies by constantly reviewing real needs and accordingly making appropriate allocations from both the central budget and the budget of the RHIF. Moreover, the comprehensive digitalisation of society should, perhaps most intensively, “infect” the health sector and further raise its efficiency. When that happens, the preconditions will be created for treating patients on the basis of data, as well as for the individual selecting and monitoring of therapies for each patient individually, all of which are characteristics of personalised medicine that all of the most developed countries strive to achieve.
However, the new relationship towards the health care system and its better treatment after the COVID-19 pandemic must be demonstrated through the solving of basic problems from the past. This primarily refers to preventing a chain of illiquidity in the supply chain itself, as a result of the accumulated debts to suppliers of a certain number of state health institutions. This debt amounted to around 11 billion dinars at the start of the year. It should also be noted immediately that the RHIF introduced a system of direct payments to suppliers during 2019, in order to ensure better control and purposeful spending, and to prevent the creation of new debts for healthcare institutions. However, along with the hope that the aforementioned system of direct payments will fulfil its goal and prevent the emergence of new debts, a way must be found to settle existing debts that represent a major burden on the work of wholesalers and other suppliers of medicines.