Pharmaceutical supply and distribution are being developed in Finland under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health as part of the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government. The purpose of the reform is to improve drug safety and the provision of pharmaceutical advice, further develop the availability and accessibility of services and improve the overall cost-effectiveness of the system. Which goals are key and how can they be achieved?
Julia Lumijärvi, an expert in patients’ rights from the Consumers’ Union of Finland, Inka Puumalainen, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs at University Pharmacy, and Charlotta Sandler, Director of Pharmaceutical Affairs at the Association of Finnish Pharmacies, discussed the pharmaceutical supply reform on the latest episode of Health & Future podcast. The hosts of the podcast were media personality and executive Pauli Aalto-Setälä and pharmaceutical industry expert Heidi Tahvanainen. The discussion focused on the need to renew the whole industry and modernise its services.
Topics of this episode:
Wider use of remote services requires more information about different options
During the covid-19 crisis, the use of online pharmacy services has increased significantly in Finland.
The pace of development has been incredible over the last 20 years. Customers can make purchases on their phone and consult a pharmacist via a chat service at almost any time, says Inka Puumalainen, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs at University Pharmacy.
However, only 27% of Finns are aware of the availability of online services. The development of digital and remote services enables new concepts also for the elderly and the visually impaired, for example. However, the launch and implementation of new services for special groups have to be carefully planned.
For people to find digital services, they must first know what services are available. Support is also needed for the use of digital service to ensure equal access, says Julia Lumijärvi, an expert in patients’ rights from the Consumers’ Union of Finland.
Structures are evolving slowly
The expertise of pharmaceutical professionals has been increasingly integrated in the work of Finnish hospitals over the past ten years, but multiprofessional cooperation has not yet become a nationwide operating model. Pharmaceutical supply structures largely continue to direct customers to physical service points, although many customers show interest to use digital services. The system needs a vast reform so that modern services become more widespread and support provided by pharmacists is integrated into treatment and can be targeted to people who need intensive support.
The goals can be achieved by creating favourable conditions and changing the incentive system so that the operators of pharmaceutical industry develop their working models in the desired direction. National development projects are also needed, and consumers must be involved in the projects, says pharmaceutical industry expert Heidi Tahvanainen.
Better management of medical therapy reduces costs
The purpose of the reform is to improve medical therapy. New pharmaceutical laws will soon be processed by the Parliament of Finland but they will have limited effect on operating models. The operators in pharmaceutical industry are looking forward to the reform to continue towards joint development between pharmaceutical distribution and healthcare.
Medication costs can be reduced by reviewing people’s medications in order to make sure that everyone only pays for the medicines they need.
The excessive or incorrect use of medicines also causes additional costs when people need to be hospitalised or use emergency services because of side effects. The appropriate and safe use of medicines requires guidance and support. By developing these further, we can reduce costs arising from unsuitable medicines, says Charlotta Sandler, Director of Pharmaceutical Affairs at the Association of Finnish Pharmacies.