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Ksenija Purković, Country Director at AstraZeneca, Serbia

Health Sector According to The Nordic Recipe

Apart from the financial aspect, AstraZeneca can contribute greatly to developing or implementing procedures and processes in the healthcare sector with best practices shared from the Nordic region, which is where healthcare is at its highest

After decades of lagging behind in the use of innovative medicines, Serbia is finally launching initiatives to resolve this crucial problem in the health system of Serbia in accordance with international standards.

AstraZeneca is a multinational pharmaceutical and biotech company, which operates in more than 100 countries worldwide. How do you assess the Serbian market when it comes to the use of innovative medicines for users of health insurance?

– Unfortunately, Serbia is specific in terms of its limited access to innovative medications. Compounds that are considered a breakthrough, or offer a unique option for a rare disease, or have even become standards of care in the past few years in Europe, are not widely accessible to patients in this country. Currently, there are almost 200 applications, 10 of which are AstraZeneca’s, that are waiting to be considered for reimbursement. This is a lag so worrying that it puts Serbia at the very bottom in terms of access to new medicines compared to other, even neighbouring, countries. However, recently a light appeared at the end of the tunnel when some positive initiatives from the State were seen emerging and we expect improvement in this area in the next several months.

In which areas can AstraZeneca help the system to improve the quality of healthcare in Serbia, especially in the prevention and treatment of severe illness?

– AstraZeneca has been helping in modernising Serbian genetic labs and has just recently contributed to the purchase of a gene-sequencing machine that is used to identify women with a risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Today the lab performs regular genetic testing for both patients and their immediate family members.

Apart from the financial aspect, AstraZeneca can contribute greatly to developing or implementing procedures and processes in the healthcare sectors with best practices shared from the Nordic region, which is where healthcare is at its highest. We are open to supporting such forms of collaboration and hope this will be recognised and welcomed by the new government.

AstraZeneca invests in distinctive science in three main therapy areas: oncology; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; and respiratory and autoimmunity

Pharmaceutical biotechnology is currently one of the key areas in the development of new medicines. In which direction is this area developing at AstraZeneca?

– AstraZeneca invests in distinctive science in three main therapy areas: oncology; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; and respiratory and autoimmunity. Our science takes advantage of our rare combination of capabilities in small molecules and biologics, immunotherapies, protein engineering technologies and devices.

The most exciting developments are happening in oncology, where AstraZeneca has a broad pipeline of next-generation medicines in principally four disease areas – breast, ovarian, lung and haematological cancers. These are being targeted through four key platforms – immunotherapy, the genetic drivers of cancer and resistance, DNA damage repair, and antibody-drug conjugates, underpinned by personalised healthcare and biomarker technologies.

AstraZeneca often gets involved in various CSR activities in Serbia. Which of these activities would you highlight?

– Being a pharmaceutical company that’s committed to helping people live longer and healthier lives means that we also have social responsibility. To start with, we’re committed to ethical business practices that affect our patients, our customers and our employees. Furthermore, we believe in equality to care and are making it easier for people to afford our medicines.

In that sense, AstraZeneca has made efforts to substantially improve the affordability of its innovative oral antidiabetic products, oral antithrombotic product, and supports patient access programmes, which make cancer therapy available to patients.

We will always support patients and try to contribute to the vision of equality in medicine access of patients in Serbia with patients in the EU, while also hoping that the appropriate institutions will accelerate their participation in this great responsibility.

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