In Poland, biological drugs are in most cases only used in hospitals within the framework of the so-called drug programmes, for which the patient must be qualified after fulfilling specific criteria. In many countries, patients can already purchase these medicines from a pharmacy and take them themselves at home.
Biological drugs are produced by living organisms. Man has learned to order microorganisms to produce drugs and thus insulin, growth hormone and monoclonal antibodies were created, thanks to which a large number of rheumatic patients did not become invalids, many patients with intestinal diseases returned to normal life, and patients with a severe form of psoriasis disappeared from the skin lesions. Biological drugs have extended the lives of cancer patients by turning some of these diseases into chronic conditions. In the production of monoclonal antibodies, scientists have taken advantage of our body's natural ability to create antibodies that destroy the perpetrators of disease. They replicated this mechanism in a laboratory setting by forcing living cells to produce specially designed antibodies that precisely target their target, such as a cancer cell.
Despite the increasing availability of biological treatment in Poland, it is still used by far fewer patients than in other EU countries. We are the only country in Europe where effective biological treatment is discontinued after the prescribed time in the drug programme and resumed only after relapse. This is a drama of many patients, which also results in higher costs because the effectiveness of drugs after their reintroduction is sometimes lower and leads to a change of therapy to a more expensive one. According to the report "Access to biological treatment in Poland" published by Modern Healthcare Institute in 2019, in our country, only 3 to 5% of rheumatology patients benefit from biological treatment, while in Western Europe. 20%. In Poland, only 9.5% of patients with Crohn's disease receive biological treatment, while in France this figure exceeds 30%. Only 0.5% of Polish psoriatic patients have access to biological drugs; in other EU countries, it is about 20%. In Poland, only 9.5% of patients with Crohn's disease receive biological treatment, while in France this figure exceeds 30%. Only 0.5% of Polish psoriatic patients have access to biological drugs; in other EU countries, it is about 20%.
"The number of patients with plaque psoriasis in Poland is about 800000, the number of those who could positively benefit from this therapy is about 160000, meanwhile 1394 are treated," says Grzegorz Rychwalski vice president of National Drug Manufacturers.
"Admittedly, the number of patients with access to biological treatment has been increasing for years, but still in Poland the percentage of patients treated with biologics is far from the European average," he emphasizes.
During the Economic Forum in Karpacz, Patient Ombudsman Bartłomiej Chmielowiec said that patients expect access to biological drugs in pharmacies, even if they have to pay extra for them. Grzegorz Rychwalski added that it would also relieve the burden on hospitals, which have to make up for many of the backlogs created due to the pandemic.
"We are not talking about moving all biological drugs to pharmacies. These are mainly those that have been on the market for more than 20 years and doctors and patients have had long experience in using them. Insulin used to be administered by a medical worker, but today nobody can imagine treating diabetes without insulins in pharmacies", Grzegorz Rychwalski points out.
In most EU countries, biological medicines are already available in pharmacies with a prescription, and they can be bought as subcutaneous injections in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, among others.
Source: Poland Daily 24, PAP MediaRoom