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The Warsaw Voice » Business » September 17, 2008
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Drugs and Dialogue
September 17, 2008   
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Jerzy Toczyski, President of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals in Poland, talks to Beata Gołębiewska.

The Polish pharmaceutical market has been growing fast recently. How long do you think this dynamic will continue?
The pharmaceutical market has been growing at a stable rate of 6-8 percent annually and its further growth primarily depends on refunding arrangements for new medicines. In recent years the transparency of refunding procedures has improved, and new drugs have been introduced to the reimbursement plan after a break of many years. However, a large number of new treatments are still waiting to be introduced. It is clear that the government's spending on health care in Poland, at 4 percent of the gross domestic product, is too low. In the West, that figure is 6-7 percent. Public funds for innovative medicines should be increased. Meanwhile, patients' contribution to the cost of medical care in Poland is the highest in Europe at the moment, at 60 percent.

What is GSK's role on this market?
We lead the way in the Polish pharmaceutical market, with a market share of about 7 percent in terms of value. But unlike most other innovative companies, we also make substantial investments in Poland. Since we bought our Poznań factory, we have invested more than zl.1 billion here. We are expanding our production lines, logistics network and the IT center, and we carry out scientific research. We employ a total staff of some 1,800.

The Polish subsidiary of the global GlaxoSmithKline corporation operates on many European and global markets and is a major player in the Polish economy. Unfortunately, many of our modern drugs and vaccines are still unavailable to Polish patients due to the lack of refunding. Meanwhile, investing in the health of people here is our most important mission-after all that is why we develop new drugs.

What difficulties do pharmaceutical companies encounter in Poland?
The main problem is a lack of direct dialogue with authorities responsible for refunding drugs with public money. In these relations, there should be more trust and a willingness to seek joint solutions. There are many problems linked with the growing costs of treatments that should be discussed in a good atmosphere by clinicians, pharmacists, health ministry officials and pharmaceutical industry insiders. In other countries, there are arrangements that spread the burden of refunding between the fund provider and the innovative company. Meanwhile, Polish government officials tend to avoid talks with manufacturers, which makes it difficult for us to present and discuss our proposals. A lack of trust results in a lack of dialogue.

You are the new boss at GSK. How long have you been with the firm?
I've been with the company for 16 years, since 1992 when I was a young doctor fresh out of college after an internship and seeking a career as a research representative. Later, I quickly climbed the ladder and got a job at the company's European headquarters in London. In the 1990s, the Polish pharmaceutical industry grew very fast and offered immense development opportunities which I took advantage of. In recent years I was appointed to increasingly senior posts where I was responsible for the sale and marketing of our entire range of medical products. My appointment as company CEO is a smooth transition and a further step in my career at GlaxoSmithKline.

What tasks have you set for yourself and your company for the near future?
We have many new drugs and vaccines in our range of products that we will introduce to the Polish market. I hope that owing to refunding, these products will be available to Polish patients. Our company has many ideas on how to relieve the burden on the health ministry budget in exchange for refunding new drugs. I'm hoping for constructive dialogue with health ministry officials.

Is GSK planning new investment?
We keep investing in our factory in Poznań, which is one of the most efficient GSK plants in Europe. We are expanding our logistics center and increasing employment in the IT department, which supports local markets. We focus on oncology and vaccines and we have the biggest number of innovations to offer in these areas. We finance large-scale educational and social campaigns, such as the Mam Haka na Raka and Stop Rakowi Szyjki Macicy anti-cancer campaigns. We are consistently building our position as a partner of the medical community in Poland.
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