Secure Access to Medicines for Hungarian Patients Requires Immediate Intervention

In the last decades, Hungarian patients’ access to the most advanced medicines has greatly improved, however, recently this process slowed down – lagging far behind not only Europe but the whole region. Nonetheless, financing has not been strengthened or made crisis-resistant, while objective conditions keep deteriorating. The continued depreciation of the forint, the pandemic, then the war in our neighbouring country have created a situation that can jeopardize the secure access to modern therapies for Hungarian patients even in the short term, as pointed out by the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Manufacturers celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. AIPM highlights 3 main proposals on burning drug policy issues for the new Government: faster and predictable inclusions, immediate measures for ensuring security of access and appointing an appropriately empowered government official to support the effective implementation of the necessary measures. They compiled dedicated propoeals as well and offered a professional dialogue for the old-new Government taking office soon, ensuring their full professional support for the necessary steps.

Due to the difficulties incurred in the last two years by the pandemic, the critical global events, the continued devaluation of the forint and high inflation, Hungary faces major challenges in the area of healthcare as well. The stable access that has been taken for granted so far is now exposed to significant risks: the secure access to modern medicinal products for Hungarian patients and the sustainability of healthcare requires immediate government intervention, stated the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (AIPM).

The Association of research and development-oriented pharmaceutical manufacturers has been working closely with the governments for 30 years to ensure that Hungarian patients have broad access to the most advanced and effective therapies as early as possible. During these 30 years many severe diseases have become curable or effectively treatable, and the benefits of this could be experienced by Hungarian patients as well.

However, Hungarian patients have increasingly slow access to the results of the latest scientific breakthroughs and pharmaceutical solutions that offer new hope. While a new therapy is available to European patients in a subsidized form within an average of 511 days following the decision of the European Medicines Agency in the last round of inclusion their Hungarian counterparts had to wait more than 1400 days for these therapies. Furthermore, two-thirds of the new medicinal products never even reach Hungary. Although a favourable decision was made for example at the end of 2021 to include 33 therapies, it was, in fact, a restoration of decisions postponed from the beginning of 2020, which actually means that Hungary has only reached a level that already meant a significant backlog in 2020 with a two-year delay.

“Not only” has Hungarian patients’ access to modern medicinal products already available in several developed countries in the world slowed down, but Hungary has not made the access to modern therapies flexible and crisis-resistant despite the increasingly pessimistic warnings, including clear predictions by the WHO indicating future medicine shortages. The kind of official price of medicines fixed in HUF is unable to handle the pressure arising from the continuously devaluating forint, and this, combined with a strong inflation pressure, could pose almost catastrophic dangers from the perspectives of the secure access of Hungarian patients.

While the security of the access to modern therapies is among the areas of strategic importance in every developed country today, in Hungary no time or government attention has been dedicated to the long-awaited pharmaceutical policy decisions in the last decade, despite the favourable environment. The Government’s clear, reinforced electoral mandate, however, also provides an opportunity to formulate immediate and effective responses to the new challenges posed by the changed environment, thereby strengthening the security and quality of care for Hungarian patients”, stated Dr. Péter Holchacker, director of the AIPM. „The pharma companies providing Rx therapies have been extremely tensed by the high sectoral taxes and especially the significant depreciation of Forint in the last some years. These companies. These circumstances do not bear any additional burden, even securing the current level of access requires supportive Governmental measures”., he added.

In this current global economic and political crisis, flexible and prompt adaptation has become the most important requirement. However, the current rigid funding and slow decision-making is less and less able to keep up with the demands of modern healthcare and public health challenges”, warned the expert, who believes the direct consequence of the cumbersome, slow to react decision-making process is that the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary is constantly dealing with inclusion applications for more than 100 modern medicinal products. Already fully prepared professional proposals also park on ministry desks for unnecessarily long periods: at the moment – negatively affecting hundreds of thousands of Hungarian patients – more than 70 therapies await final decision, despite the fact that since last October, all the necessary professional submissions have been already available.

The government tasks that should be given high priority according to the AIPM include

  • Predictable and much faster access to new therapies must be ensured for Hungarian patients – with immediate decisions on ongoing applications and two substantive decisions on inclusion per year further on.
  • For sake of ensuring the unconditional security of access to modern therapies, immediate and meaningful measures are needed to address high inflation, the consequences of the low HUF exchange rate and to reduce over-taxation in the industry.
  • In order to effectively address complex policy challenges, it is necessary to appoint an appropriately empowered government official to support the effective implementation of strategic government actions within the fragmented decision-making framework.

For supporting the implementation of them, AIPM compiled dedicated proposals too and offered professional dialogue for the old-new Government taking office soon, ensuring their full professional support for the necessary steps. “We are convinced that health is a national treasure and Hungary’s re-elected Government is also committed to creating a healthy and strong Hungarian society and national economy. However, to achieve this it is essential to lay the foundations of a secure access to therapies of Hungarian patients, and to ensure predictable and fast access to the most advanced therapies”, said Oliver Rozboril, chairman of the AIPM. He added: “the AIPM fully supports the Government’s efforts to this end and facilitates the professional dialogue between all actors of the domestic health industry, health services and the Government with constructive proposals”.