Innovative drugs prevented 110,000 deaths in Portugal since 1990

A study by the Portuguese Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry reveals that innovative medicines, valued at between 60 and 80 billion euros, have avoided 110 thousand deaths in Portugal since 1990 and added two million years of healthy life.

The study ‘The value of the drug in Portugal’, prepared by the consultancy ‘McKinsey & Company’, at the request of Apifarma, collected and analyzed data referring to the Portuguese reality, aiming to “present a holistic perspective on the value of medicines in Portugal”, analyzing their human, social and economic value.

To assess the impact of drugs in these three dimensions, the study selected eight diseases (lung cancer, colorectal cancer, schizophrenia, HIV / AIDS, heart failure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which represent 15% in Portugal.

The research concluded that “innovative medicines added significant value in Portugal” and brought benefits higher than the country’s total drug expenditure.

Since 1990, they have avoided more than 110,000 deaths, “comparable to the total population of the municipality of Setúbal in 2017,” contributed to the increase in life expectancy up to 10 years and added two million years of healthy life, 180,000 in 2016, which represent “more than three times those lost in injuries resulting from road accidents”.

“The value of healthy life years gained in the eight diseases represents between five and seven billion euros per year, above the total expenditure on medicines (3.8 billion euros),” said the study, which will be presented today in Lisbon in the Apifarma congress “Commitment to People, More and Better Life”.

To reach these numbers, the researchers compared the actual number of deaths from these diseases and the years of unhealthy life (DALYs) of each patient with the number projected.

“For each disease, the projection was based on an analysis of the evolution of disease prevalence and the average burden imposed on each patient between 1991 and 2016. Thus, in each disease, we tried to understand that innovative medicines were introduced or popularized each year and if this was reflected in the number of deaths and DALYs, “the consultant explained.

For example, for infancy diabetes appears around 2002 with the introduction of DPP-4 drugs, but innovation continued with the GLP-1 and SGLT-2 categories and basal insulin regimens over the impact of these innovative drugs is still felt today, the consultancy said.

In the case of HIV / AIDS, innovative therapies have transformed “a fatal disease into a chronic and controllable disease, saving up to 22,000 lives, and in colorectal cancer avoiding up to 28,000 deaths,” the study points out.

Innovative medicines also allowed patients to continue to be productive, generating about 280 million euros per year in additional income for families in the eight diseases (€ 1,000 per month per affected family) and helped to reduce hospitalizations and other direct health costs at around € 560 million per year.

In order to analyze the productivity of the patients of an active age, several national and international studies have been evaluated, which confirmed an increase, either by postponing retirement or avoiding days off.

For rheumatoid arthritis it was possible to quantify this effect by 240 million euros per year of productivity increase, the consultant exemplified.

The study also indicates that the pharmaceutical industry added more than 1.5 billion euros to Portuguese GDP in 2016 compared to 2000, “enough to cover the entire budget for Science, Education and Technology.”

“Industry is a driver of global GDP growth, growing slightly faster than the economy (2.7% vs. 2.3% pa), and is creating jobs in Portugal,” employing around 10,000 people directly and 40 thousand directly and indirectly.

According to research, Portugal lags behind most European Union countries in access to innovative medicines, with patients’ access taking up to 38 months.

The research points out that “increasing the value of medicines in Portugal” would “innovate in patient care”, reinforcing prevention and diagnosis, integrating care and leveraging technology, for “accelerating access to innovative medicines”, simplifying approval reimbursement, and for “attracting investment from the pharmaceutical industry”.

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