Aifa, gold rents and judicial troubles: that's who decides the price of the drugs

Aifa, gold rents and judicial troubles: that's who decides the price of the drugs

The Italian Medicines Agency decides on the purchase and cost of medicines sold in Italy. Since 2008 she has been hit by two scandals: 8 executives arrested six years ago for altering the procedure for marketing drugs; Inspection of the Guardia di Finanza, in 2014.

It was born just eleven years ago and its history is already shrouded in mystery. Few people know what isAIFA, that is the Italian Medicines Agency, a government agency directed by the Ministry of Health. Yet it affects everyone closely. Because its function is to guarantee theaccess to medicines in our country. Like? First with an evaluation of the drug on the basis of the opinion of theEma (the European Medicines Agency). Then by negotiating the price with the manufacturing company.

Companies make the offer and Aifa takes or leaves, it is difficult to negotiate. Since 2004 the price of a medicine (refunded by National Health Service) is assigned according to its therapeutic value, and not by industrial value. So the real paradox is that it does waste of public money due to exorbitant costs certain molecules (such as Sofosbuvir against hepatitis C from 50mila euros, or imatinib, an antileukemic, from 24mila euros) is legal. Until 2010 the Aifa headquarters was a humble building on the outskirts of Rome, not far from the subway. Then she moved to a pharaonic palace of seven floors in via del Tritone 181, in the center of Rome, a stone's throw from the Trevi Fountain, and look a little, almost in front of the entrance of Farmindustria, the association of pharmaceutical companies. Now Aifa pays a rent of almost 4 million euros per year, double what he spent before. And the number of employees increased from 250 to 402. The 2013 financial statements closed with a profit of 1,6 million. It receives 29% of the funding from the state. The manager is Luca Pani, psychiatrist and pharmacologist from Cagliari, who receives a gross compensation of 222.107 euros per year. The executives under him take from 96 thousand to 162 thousand euros gross.

Aifa grows on polluted soil. Before her, she was doing the same things Pharmaceutical service within the ministry of health which until 1993 is in the hands of the king of health, Duilio Poggiolini , already enrolled in the P2 di Licio Gelli, head of the service and recipient of mountains of bribes by Big Pharma to authorize the sale and establish drug prices. At the time of arrest they come over 15 billion seized old lira into a Swiss account, gold bars, jewelry, paintings, ancient coins. In 2013 a treasure of 26 million euros was discovered in the vault of Bankitalia. A year earlier, the Court of Cassation obliged him to compensate the state for over € 5 million for the crime of corruption.

Then the two arrive scandals larger in the house Aifa. The first in 2008, which leads toarrest of eight executives of the institution e 19 warranty notices among its officials and owners of pharmaceutical companies, for having altered the authorization process for the marketing of certain drugs. He is also involved in the investigation In the Martini, then director of the institution, accused of culpable disaster because he did not order the update of 20 leaflets. On June 21, 2008 he was fired. On 8 July 2010 he was acquitted because "the fact does not constitute a crime". In fact, the failure to correct the bugs did not endanger citizens' health. What is your real fault? Not to be bought by Big Pharma. He is the first director of AIFA and inaugurates an independent avant-garde program for doctors, nurses and pharmacists: newsletters, guides and refresher courses unrelated to the interests of companies. In 2005 he asked them to pay 5 percent of what they spend on conferences and marketing activities to finance independent research in uninteresting business sectors, such as rare diseases and pharmacovigilance. A plan that bothers and disappears after five years. Bulletins also disappear. In 2014, Aifa falls into the spotlight for another problem. Last June the Finance Guard makes a blitz in via del Tritone: the suspect of the prosecutors is the presence of an artificial plan set up by Roche e Novartis to manipulate drug pricing criteria Lucentis e Avastin by the drug agency.


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