ORANGE CARD WINS OVER MEDICINES LIST
Patients' protests against the new list of medicines, effective as of September 1, surprisingly culminated with a success although institutions did not contribute for it. The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline undertook to settle the problem regarding the medicines of almost 54,000 people with asthma, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, and chronic hepatitis. Due to problems with the documentation it was not included in the competition of the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) and for that reason basic expensive medicines dropped from the list, which provoked patients' discontent. As a result, the company's European headquarters released a BGN3.5MN subsidy intended to cover over 50% of the patients' costs. The medicines can be purchased in more than 1,000 pharmacies round the country thanks to the company's social programme, called Orange Card.
The programme has been in effect since 2004 and is aimed at ensuring transparency and sustainable treatment of people in need, representatives of the international company explained. Through the Orange Card GlaxoSmithKline will in fact assume the unaffordable price of medicines for treatment of asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, and hepatitis in the new medicines list. After the changes made in NHIF's reimbursement list, it turned out that the overall treatment of patients will rally cost almost BGN250 per month instead of BGN60-70 as it was until now. People with asthma will be paying BGN25.60 under this programme, medicines for people with diabetes will cost them BGN16.79, and those for patients with epilepsy - BGN22.83, the company's Director General for Bulgaria Iliyana Paounova specified. In that way, the sick people won't be forced to discontinue or change their treatment because they will be obtaining their medicines at the former, cheaper prices.
Any patient with one of the above-mentioned illnesses may join the programme, company insiders assured. In order to get the necessary medicine, however, he should have a valid prescription from his GP. The card is individual and may not be given to be used by other people. The term for receiving it is 4 to 14 days but it may be used for an unlimited period of time.
The problem is that the released subsidy covers the differences in prices for a period of six months. The people in GlaxoSmithKline hope the NHIF would change its medicines list in that time. But it will hardly react so quickly. Negotiations for amendments to the framework agreement for 2007 have not started yet. Moreover, the reimbursement list was signed by NHIF's new Director, Dr. Rumyana Todorova, and she will hardly retract her first say. Anyway, for the time being the Orange Card not only gives a chance for better treatment of patients but also time to organizations to win cheaper medicines in the future.