The local pharmaceuticals market will register an average yearly increase of 10 percent through to 2015, Radu Rasinar, president of drug firm AstraZecenca Romania, predicts. By the end of this year, the sector is tipped to reach between USD 2.5 billion and 3 billion. Rasinar said that AstraZeneca holds a 5 percent market share, estimated at USD 150 million.
On the short term, the consumption of pharmaceuticals is expected to increase as Romania is lagging behind in the main areas of medicine. The AstraZeneca president puts the yearly consumption of pharmaceuticals per head in Romania at around EUR 70, half the average rates in the region. However, more and more expenditure on pharmaceuticals is coming from individuals, to top up outlay from the state budget.
Rasinar said the rate of access to treatment had improved in recent years, but there is still a significant difference between urban and rural areas. Diagnosis procedures can also be improved. He highlighted the importance of strategy and education, an area where AstraZeneca has taken the initiative through a CSR program it launched last week, aimed at improving awareness of cardio-vascular disease among some 50,000 high school students over a three-year period.
Asked about the usage of generic pharmaceuticals in treatment, Rasinar stated that Romania was among the top five EU countries by the penetration of generic pharmaceuticals. Any new generic product that enters the market is automatically included in the funding system.
AstraZeneca will pursue additional investments in Romanian operations, as the market has potential, but the business environment as a whole needs improvement. Rasinar believes that legal changes that impact the industry are made too abruptly. He said that amendments to the way drugs are funded on national treatment schemes were approved in September, while industry players were only informed in August. Rasinar believes that the medicine sector as a whole, including patients and doctors, would benefit if prospective legal changes were announced six months in advance.
The new version of the claw-back tax approved by the Public Healthcare Ministry is a good temporary measure and showed the right idea, he added, but additional changes have to be made to the limits on pharmaceuticals resources and additional taxation of pharma producers’ profits.