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PIA sounds off on access to innovative treatments, meds

PIA President Frank Gutiérrez

The Puerto Rico Pharmaceutical Industry Association is lobbying for giving island patients broader access to innovative drugs and treatments, and against the final decision being made by anyone other than the prescribing physician.

“We at PIA work to make sure that there collaboration within Puerto Rico’s health system so that access to innovation in treatment flows adequately and that the physician is who makes the final decision about which treatment is right for the patient,” said Frank Gutiérez, president of the nonprofit organization known as PIA that groups most of the island’s major pharmaceutical companies as well as other health industry components.

“Puerto Ricans today have the chance to live longer, more productive lives, thanks largely to advances in science and innovation in pharmaceutical products to prevent and treat diseases,” he added.

During a news conference Tuesday, Gutiérrez outlined the four principles PIA follows to promote unobstructed access to innovation: Educated and informed patients who should know the standard of medical care they are getting for their condition and have greater empowerment over their health; health professionals as the key to health solutions; respect for the health professional by eliminating “systemic barriers” that limit patient access to treatment innovation; and prevention, control of chronic conditions and innovation as principles for improving health.

“The first key to reducing costs and improving health-related quality of life is prevention,” Gutiérrez said. “To reduce costs and improve health, incentives in the health system should focus on keeping people healthy, rather than treating them once they’re sick.”

PIA urged the government to support programs for active lifestyles, smoking cessation, cancer testing, vaccination and other preventive measures.

Controlling chronic conditions key to savings
The organization believes the key to reducing costs and improving health care lies in controlling a sick person’s condition. The Center for Disease Control estimates that $3 out of every $4 in health expenditures are directed to treatment of chronic conditions.

“Proper control of chronic conditions helps prevent complications that raise the cost of care and increase the risk to the health of the population,” PIA officials said. “PIA supports the creation of models and patient-centered initiatives that remove barriers to access to medicines and other treatments that promote control of chronic conditions.”

Those initiatives may include reducing co-payments and coinsurance in health coverage and greater openness to innovative medicines in medical forms. Such models are known as “patient-centered medical home,” “coordinated care” and adherence programs.

On the issue of innovation, PIA said insurers and the government have the ability to impose price controls and other disincentives to innovation unless they understand the role of innovation in reducing costs and improving health.

“So PIA promotes that the market for innovation in Puerto Rico is one free of price controls, taxes and other barriers and is based on achieving optimal health outcomes for patients,” Gutiérrez noted.

PIA will be holding its “Health System Reform and the Quality of Healthcare” summit Sept. 14 to provide a forum for healthcare industry professionals to share ideas about trends and practices that influence the health outcomes of the local community.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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