AGES PharmMed Special Forum

messages in brief | 02/09/2009

Especially in times of crisis, you have to offer people collective security. AGES is such a safety system. For example, the reviews of active substances by AGES PharmMed create safety for Austrians. The result of their work is excellent," Federal Minister Alois Stöger had nothing but praise for AGES PharmMed's "special forum". Around 100 employees had come to the Q&A session with their "top" minister, who willingly answered questions on topics such as boosting generic prescriptions including eMedication or proposals such as the "vigilance cent", as well as on the financing of AGES and the reform of the healthcare system.


After the question and answer session, which lasted more than an hour, Health Minister Alois Stöger wanted to get a first-hand impression of the AGES PharmMed headquarters in Schnirchgasse. Division Manager and "landlord" Marcus Müllner gave the highest-ranking owner representative a tour of the offices, which the Health Minister took advantage of to "chat" with the staff. "I am very interested in what you all do here. After all, I have long been convinced by your external achievements," said Alois Stöger, who was very open and interested; and who took plenty of time to answer both technical and political questions. Division Manager Marcus Müller was also visibly satisfied: "We have never had a 'special forum' so well filled. Our employees were very interested in what the Minister of Health had to say about our work and how he, as the owner's representative, also stands on job security."


Above all, Stöger said, the safeguarding of the Austrian healthcare system and the sustainable financial security of the "safety ring AGES" were close to his heart. "Health is not a cost factor, but is value creation for the people in the country." In bare figures, he said, this means that the healthcare system produces a total of 10.1 percent added value (GDP). "And if you want performance, you have to pay for it," the health minister emphasized. "Ensuring the highest quality sustainably, at the lowest possible cost" - this model applies both to reforming the healthcare system and to securing the future of AGES, he said. From his international contacts, he said, he gets only positive feedback "for the Austrian healthcare system in general and the quality of quality assurance in particular." In any case, he is very much in favor of ensuring AGES funding through fees. On this point, however, there is no agreement with the second owner representative, the Ministry of Agriculture. In any case, the topic will be discussed again at the supervisory board meeting in September.Another topic of interest to AGES PharmMed employees was the low rate of generic prescriptions compared to the rest of the EU. It is "crucial" that the use of generics is increased and that the cheapest and most effective drug is prescribed at all times, said the health minister, who referred to the eMedication project in this context. Marcus Müllner, who also sits on the advisory group of the eMedication steering committee, would also welcome the possibility of using this electronic system to handle drug notifications. In addition to the numerous and expert questions from the AGES PharmMed staff, all of which the Minister of Health answered, Alois Stöger was particularly enthusiastic about the presentations on "Pharmacovigilance" and "Medical Market Surveillance".

Aleksandra Martinovic emphasized the achievements of vigilance for consumer safety. In 2007/2008, for example, the instructions for use for more than 2,500 preparations were adapted, direct information is sent to doctors and pharmacists for 30 preparations per year, and the prescription requirement for children under six years of age was introduced [note: this only applies to a specific group of substances]. "The spin-off of pharmacovigilance from the BMG and the reinforcement within AGES PharmMed, combined with measures to increase the willingness to report, has led to a doubling of the reporting frequency," said Division Manager Marcus Müllner, emphasizing the achievements in this important AGES PharmMed task area.


Another and important safety net for Austrians is medical market surveillance. Hannes Würkner presented to Health Minister Stöger the active fight against violations of the law in connection with counterfeit medicines - in short: "enforcement". Since 2006, the number of cases has been increasing continuously; the main distribution channel is and remains the Internet. Hannes Würkner emphasized the good cooperation between the AGES Food and AGES PharmMed divisions, especially in the case of suspected medicines. Overall, the work is paying off, "half of the party hearings lead to the cessation of violations of the law," Würkner said. Where the "safety ring" needs to be strengthened, however, is in legal penalties, he said. "With 30 charges last year, the highest penalty was only 700 euros." His appeal therefore went out to the minister to provide for a corresponding legal tightening. On the legal market, however, there is not a single counterfeit in Austria, Würkner said.


Further inquiry note