I participated in Pharma Online's "Apoteksmarknadsdagarna 2011" (in English: the Pharmacy Days 2011) today. I, Cecilia Marlow (Managing Director of Kronans Droghandel) and Karin Liljelund (head of communication, MistraPharma) gave presentations and had a good discussion on "Environmental issues and responsible operations - how to create a sustainable pharma market".
Cecilia Marlow started up by presenting what a pharmacy chain could do already today to lower their environmental impact. Examples include looking for green products in the product groups of shampoo, tooth brushes and tooth paste etc. However, when it comes to pharmaceuticals, the present pricing and re-imbursement system (including mandatory generic substitution) prohibits them to act "green". Cecilia very clearly described problems with the generic reform, e.g.
- 40% of the customers (i.e. patients) experience problems with generics,
- there are roughly 200 000 mis-treatments annually due to generic substitutions,
- the generic reform doesn't allow for any environmental aspects to be taken into account, and
- "the product of the period-system" increases cassation.
Cecilia said that she is not happy in the present situation when employees at the pharmacy have to substitute a prescribed product with "the product of the period" (i.e. the chepest generic) when that one may be a product with a large environmental impact. The situation could of course be even worse - the prescribed product that has to be substituted was perhaps known to be a "green" one...
Cecilia does see some possible solutions though:
Cecilia wants to be able to sell the same product for longer times, i.e. not have to change to "the product of the period" too frequently. Cecilia also wants to be allowed to discuss and negotiate with the suppliers (i.e. the pharmaceutrical companies) to put pressure on them to supply "green" products. In essence she wants to be able to act more freely on a more de-regulated market and come up with green solutions that not only pharmacies and suppliers could find interesting but also the patients would gain from. Cecilia is a strong believer that the customers expectations will become much greener in the years to come.
Karin Liljelund then decsribed where science comes in, supporting with the knowledge needed to make the pharma sector greener.
You can read about the MistraPharma project on their web page and on several of my previous blog posts, e.g. Oct 29, 2010, and May 27, 2010. I was also very happy to hear that the "MistraPharma Year Book" was just issued. The English version comes from the publisher on Monday. It is a must read! It presents the views from most of the different stakeholders on the results from the project so far and the future challenges. Interesting reading!
I then gave a presentation called "Pharmaceuticals and the Environment - the view of the industry". My main focus today was the discussions about green pharmaceuticals and green incentives. If you have followed my blog over the recent months you are well aware of my key messages on this. If not, see the blog posts from e.g. April 20, 2011, March 28, 2011, and Feb 23, 2011.
I was very happy that I felt a general understanding of the need to develop market-driven green incentives. Only relying upon regulatory initiatives, e.g. inclusion of environmental requirements in GMP as proposed by Swedish MPA, is not satisfactory. Market-driven solutions are probably faster and allows for innovations and creative ideas from a whole range of different actors, including both the pharmaceutical industry and the pharmacy companies.
Looking forward to further dicsussions!