Editorial by General Manager, Mag. Georg Ziniel MSc

Georg Ziniel

Equitable access to equitable medicines is a challenge world-wide, in low-income countries as well as in high-income countries. Key questions to be addressed comprise finding a balance, regardless of the type of the underlying health system, between equity and solidarity considerations and cost-containment pressure; the assessment of the value of innovation and of the benefits which a medicine brings to the patients; and the challenge of ensuring safe-guarding mechanisms for small, in particular vulnerable, population groups.

Sound information and evidence about the impact of policies on cost-containment and health of the population are necessary in order to support decision-makers in choosing adequate policy options. The Pharmaceutical Price Information (PPI) service might serve as one good practice example; by providing updated independent medicines price information on 30 European countries this service supports the Austrian Pricing Commission in setting medicines prices.

In addition to running the PPI service, the Pharma team at the Health Economics Department of Gesundheit Österreich (GÖG) / Austrian Health Institute has been committed to assisting countries by establishing networks of public medicines authorities and developing a methodological framework. The approach undertaken by GÖG includes glossaries to promote a common understanding and reporting systems which allow countries to describe and analyze their assessment. Common indicators offer a basis for comparison of performance. This work serves for benchlearning: We are well aware of the benefits of learning from each other, but it is also clear that successful policies cannot be copied identically from one country to another but they need to be translated into policy options which take the framework and culture of a country into consideration.

In the beginning, our activities have been focused on Europe. Today, the instruments developed serve as a model for several countries world-wide.

We are honoured for having been designated a WHO Collaborating Centre in July 2010. It is a sign of respect and recognition of our work by the World Health Organization, and, at the same time, a mandate to provide scientific advice and technical assistance to the WHO and its Member States. We are pleased to take on this task and to support policy makers in implementing fair and rational pharmaceutical policies for the benefit of their citizens.

Mag. Georg Ziniel, MSc.

General Manager of Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (GÖG) / Austrian Health Institutee