The Romanian Association of International Medicines Manufacturers (ARPIM) serves as a strong advocate for the interests of its 29 member companies, which represent around 75% of Romania’s pharmaceuticals sector in value. ARPIM is also involved in promoting medical research in Romania. Dan Zaharescu, Executive Director, discusses ARPIM’s goals and current projects.
European Times: What is ARPIM’s mission?
Dan Zaharescu: ARPIM’s main task is to serve as the interface between our industry, the R&D pharma companies and the Romanian government, including the Ministry of Health and the national healthcare system. ARPIM is the leading lobbyist for Romania’s R&D-oriented pharmaceuticals sector.
European Times: What are some of the challenges the pharmaceuticals sector faces?
Dan Zaharescu: While ARPIM represents 75% of Romania’s pharmaceuticals companies in value, these companies account for only 25% of pharmaceuticals sold in Romania. An explanation comes from the fact that innovative drugs are higher in value since they include the R&D costs in the sale prices of their products. Around 30,000 diseases have been identified for which no treatments yet exist, and the pharmaceuticals industry worldwide is trying to meet this challenge. New legislation that sets low prices for pharmaceuticals in Romania seems a good idea for Romanian patients but in fact it works against them since it encourages parallel trade. Wholesalers are buying Romanian pharmaceuticals at low prices and selling them in other EU markets, which is creating shortages here in Romania. Parallel trade is a legal process, it respects the European Union legislation regarding the free trading of goods, but is not beneficial for the country that is exporting, neither for the country that is importing.
European Times: Can you describe R&D in the Romanian pharmaceuticals sector?
Dan Zaharescu: The Romanian pharmaceuticals sector is innovative and dynamic. Most of our members are involved in R&D activities, particularly clinical research. The sector deserves stronger support from authorities, particularly concerning patients’ access to specific medicines, such as ground-breaking new treatments based on an individual patient’s DNA. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years Romanian patients’ access to innovative medicine has been dramatically restricted, in spite of the country’s economic growth. For six years, 2008 – 2014 there has been no update of the reimbursement list. ARPIM is dedicated to improving patients’ access to innovative treatments.
European Times: What are some of ARPIM’s other priorities?
Dan Zaharescu: We are working to close the gap between physicians and R&D activities in pharmaceuticals and medicine. All 29 ARPIM members are extremely active in promoting on-going medical education for physicians to keep them informed about new treatment options. We are also working to shorten the amount of time it takes to get a clinical trial approved in Romania, which is currently much longer than in other countries. Romania has enormous potential for clinical trials and for R&D in medicine and pharmaceuticals. Also, one other priority is to decrease the waiting period as far as patients’ access to innovative drugs is concerned, by working on a continuous mechanism of updating the reimbursement list.
Nevertheless, our current priority is to work together with the authorities in establishing a drug pricing methodology that will be in the benefit of the patients and the Romanian Healthcare system.