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Latvia lags behind Baltic neighbors in state-reimbursed medicines

Latvia has one of the worst situations in Europe regarding medication reimbursed by the State. Patient organizations say that the budget for compensated medicines should be increased rapidly, Latvian Radio reported August 17.

Information gathered by the Association of International Research-Based Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers (SIFFA) on the situation with state-paid-for medicinal products shows that Latvia has the smallest aid for the purchase of reimbursable medicinal products. According to SIFFA, Lithuania's budget for purchasing these medicines is more than 451 million, Estonia's is nearly 190 million, while Latvia's budget is slightly above 162.5 million.

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Image: SIFFA

"It must be said that we are lagging behind more and more each year. And the Baltic States are absolutely no front-seats in the European Union. The Baltic States are all lagging behind the European Union averages, but of course, Lithuania and Estonia are coming to their European Union averages at a much larger pace, while we are standing still," said SIFFA's head Valters Bolevics.

Olga Valciņa, founder of the melanoma patient organization A step ahead of melanoma, said that the availability of reimbursable medicines in Latvia is the worst for both oncology patients and other illness sufferers.

“There is a difference between palliative care and fulfilled life, work, planning for children now, right? It's a huge difference. It's a life,” Valciņa said.

SIFFA's director Bolevics said that in order to reach the Baltic average for the budget of reimbursable medicines per capita, which would not meet all patients' needs anyway, Latvia should increase this budget by around €80 million. At the moment, however, the increase is much smaller. Valciņa also believes that good results can only be achieved if the budget for reimbursable medicines is increased significantly, not by a bit.

"If we invest a small amount this year, such as €10, €15 or €20 million in oncology, we won't catch up to anything. We'll just avoid lagging behind even more. [..] We need to make a breakthrough in order to reach at least the average level with the Baltic States," Valciņa said.

“These investments are for the benefit of our patients, our citizens. [..] This will improve our survival rates, our quality of life. And in the end, our economy will only gain from the fact that people live longer. It is quite sad to see that we are in the last place throughout the European Union in the availability of new medicines. In the last place, I repeat. It's not a misconception. And these scientific achievements in the pharmaceutical field actually do not reach Latvian patients or reach them very late,” Bolevics said.

Latvian Radio wanted to talk to the responsible Ministry of Health about the budget for reimbursable medicinal products, as well as about opportunities and plans, but failed to reach someone who could explain the matter and comment on it.

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