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POLAND TO INTRODUCE NEW DRUG REIMBURSEMENT LIST

February 20, 2006

The Polish Health Minister has declared that the new drug reimbursement list will be introduced in May 2006. The amended list will add transparency and will be expanded to include reimbursement for innovative medicines.

The Polish health system has a poor reputation when it comes to providing modern drugs, and lags behind many neighbours in Eastern Europe. A number of hi-tech drugs available in Bulgaria and Latvia cannot be obtained in Poland, due to the country's low health expenditure. Multinational drugmakers have frequently criticised the reimbursement list, which excludes innovative drugs, claiming that the system is designed to shelter local producers.

Although the government is keen to create a more comprehensive and up-to-date reimbursement system, health expenditure is rising inexorably. The Polish national health fund NFZ spent over PLN6.3bn (US$2bn) on reimbursement in 2005, PLN255mn (US$81.18mn) more than projected, while harmonisation with European Union (EU) legislation is expected to impose further costs.