PharmaBoardroom's "Healthcare and Life Sciences Review Poland 2014", is now available for free download. The report explores one of Europe's largest pharma markets, and looks at the delicate balance between a strong and growing economy, and healthcare legislation that many complain is negatively affecting the pharmaceutical market.
Not only is Poland the largest pharmaceutical market in the Central & Eastern Europe region and the sixth largest in Europe (USD 8.1 billion in market value), it is also a hub for production and functional activities. With a GDP growth of three percent forecast by the OECD, and the first positive balance of trade in 2013 since its accession to the EU, there are also clear signs of economic momentum. However, Poland has some of the lowest prices of both innovative and generic drugs in Europe. At the same time, as cost containment measures keep the pressure on other European health authorities to reduce drug reimbursement expenditures, the Polish pharma industry is also struggling to deal with the pressure from its own 2012 Reimbursement Act while reasserting its positioning alongside the Big 5 Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK.
"Despite the fact that the Polish environment has changed significantly, access to innovation is still challenging," says Marynika Woroszylska-Sapieha, general manager at Sanofi Poland and president of the board of INFARMA. "This is not because Poland cannot afford innovation but rather because there is no recognition of the value of innovation."
The government is aware of this situation but has many other issues to resolve. "Our biggest priority is to counteract rising waiting lists. Polish society must overcome the burden of health inequality," says Igor Radziewicz-Winnicki, undersecretary of state at the country's Ministry of Health.
"We believe that a rationalization of health capacities, improved accessibility, availability and adequate health services are the tools needed to enhance the efficacy of our health system." - Igor Radziewicz-Winnicki, Undersecretary of State - Ministry of Health
However, Michal Bichta, Merck's country manager in Poland, feels that there is still a long way to go before the industry and the health authorities are aligned. "I personally feel there is lack of long-term perspective in our discussions with health service authorities," he explains. "They are still very much driven by the here and now."
With a declining Rx market and market access challenges, companies have to develop new strategies and anticipate change to remain competitive. Some multinational companies have implemented a three-leg strategy in Poland that has proven to be successful. "Diversifying our business has been essential to our success in Poland," says Sanofi's Woroszylska-Sapieha. Even for multinational generics players, diversification has been a must.
The report also looks at Poland's continuing potential as a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub, driven by high standards and lower costs than Western Europe. Polish infrastructure is still in need of significant development and in- vestment, particularly in the road network. But there might be a new positive trigger as new investment (overall European Union budget 2014-2020 of EUR 144 billion - USD 195 billion) is arriving to solve infrastructural issues and help the Polish pharma industry and manufacturers blossom.