Moving Health Forward

Roche is a leading innovation company providing preventive, diagnostic and treatment interventions. Anne Nijs, President and CEO of Roche Hellas, speaks with Business Partners.

Given the multilevel economic crisis in Greece, do you believe that the right decisions about the cost of medicines, using measures such as rebates, claw-backs, for instance, were made? Is that something that can be beneficial for patients and society?

Greece was obliged to proceed to severe cost containing measures concerning pharmaceutical expenditure in the beginning of the memorandum era. In this respect, claw-back, rebate and flat price reductions were introduced, as the need for savings was critical. The pharmaceutical industry in Greece also suffered a big loss incurred from the haircut on Greek government bond holdings. The problem is that five years later, the same horizontal measures are being followed.

For us at Roche Hellas, the economic crisis could have been the springboard for structural reforms that have already been adopted with great success in various other EU countries, as well as globally. This could result in continued access to life saving personalized therapies, while keeping pharmaceutical expenditure in line with budgets.

In this field, the government estimates that innovative treatments are extremely expensive, especially at this period for Greece and pharmaceutical companies have a huge profit margin…

Our argument is that the debate focuses falsely on medicines’ list prices, which are among the lowest in the EU, and not on the cost-benefit ratio of medicines. Registries and therapeutic protocols, fair pricing of innovative and generic medicines, as well as the promotion of rational resource allocation among different public expenditure accounts, is the answer for moving the Greek Healthcare system to the new era. A solely budget-centric perspective assesses only the cost, as it is direct and immediate, ignoring the real benefits for the patient and society. If government, public payers and the pharmaceutical industry adopt tools and mechanisms to assess the added value of innovative treatments, these therapies can be reimbursed through mutually beneficial agreements under a transparent and stable framework. Also, most of all, the government needs to ensure that it is prioritizing sustained patient access to life-saving treatments in contrast to others for non-critical conditions.

Talking about innovative medicines, what is Roche’s pipeline and what therapeutic categories will be covered?

Our focus at Roche is to provide therapeutic solutions in disease areas with high unmet medical need, save lives, improve the quality of life and yield effectiveness and efficiency in the management of serious life-threatening conditions. In this respect, our pipeline for the upcoming three years is very promising. Roche is the leader in oncology and continues to change the treatment algorithm, with immunotherapy molecules and personalized healthcare to further improve patients’ lives. In other therapeutic areas Roche will have a meaningful presence providing innovative treatments for multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders and rare diseases.

Do you think that the crisis could be an opportunity for the development of your company in Greece?

Roche’s goal and responsibility is to provide innovative treatments to patients and we have been consistent to these principles through all these years despite the challenges that we face due to the restrictive measures being implemented. During the last few years, Roche invested in multiple areas like clinical trials, its personnel, partnering with patient organizations, CSR programs and supporting local academic research projects and will continue to leave its positive footprint in Greek society. It is worth mentioning that between 2010-2015, 5,800 patients participated in our 80 clinical trials. Our aim is to ensure that we are “Doing now what patients need next.”

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