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Patients demand explanations from Health Ministry how medicines procured using local budgets funds

KYIV. March 6 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Patient organizations demand from the Health Ministry to give explanations how medicines are procured using local budgets' funds and how medicines that are not placed to the National List of Essential Medicines could be procured.

"We would like to receive from the Ministry of Health a legally proved basis, not an explanation on the website, not an information message, but a legislative base for chief medical officers and representatives of the regions what orders, resolutions and mechanisms they can apply to carry out regional procurement of medicines that are not placed to the national list," the editor of the portal Lilia Hudz said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday.

She said that the problem is related to government resolution No. 180, which requires to procure, first of all, medicines included in the national list, and procurement of medicines not placed to the national list to be made from unspent funds if 100% of the medicines from the national list are procured.

"Now the national list does not contain any modern medicine for cancer treatment, so-called targeted therapy was not included," founder of the community Onkobudni (Onkological Weekdays) Liudmyla Pukhliak said.

According to her, the regions are not able to procure targeted therapy medicines, so patients are forced to interrupt treatment. In Cherkasy region, three of 11 patients with breast cancer who received targeted therapy "have already interrupted treatment, because local budgets could not purchase these medicines."

Member of the nongovernmental union Orphan Diseases of Ukraine Oksana Aleksandrova said that no medicine for the treatment of orphan (rare) diseases was also included in the national list, so orphan patients are deprived of the opportunity to receive treatment using budget funds.

"Since 2014, patients with orphan diseases have been protected by the law, which obliged the state to procure medicines using the national budget funds, but with the appearance of resolution No. 180, all procurement was stopped, even those that do not concern the national list, for example, patients with Folling disease who require special food," she said.

"The national list is not calculated, no region knows about the amount to be spent on medicines placed to the national list, and they cannot plan their budgets and allocate financing. Until there will be concrete calculations, how much money is needed for the introduction of the national list, its application should be suspended," Aleksandrova said.

In turn, the executive director of the nongovernmental organization Stop Hepatitis Dmytro Koval said that the price of one of the innovative drugs for treating hepatitis, already registered in Ukraine, is about $900 per cure therapy, but this drug is not included in the national list and cannot be purchased using funds of the budget. At the same time, the cost of the hepatitis treatment schedule included in the national list is $1,600.

In his opinion, it is enough to make changes in the existing regulatory documents to resolve the problem.