By Konstantinos Frouzis

As Greece rebuilds after the financial crisis, adopting the EFPIA code on financial disclosure will be a source of greater confidence, improving the environment for investment and growth, says SFEE President Konstantinos Frouzis

The EFPIA code on transfers of value is “a very important development” that enables the national body in Greece, the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), to play its part in the nation’s recovery.

konstantinos-frouzis-sq“Greece is currently trying to recover from an acute crisis,” says SFEE President Konstantinos Frouzis. “This is a great opportunity to put things in a different perspective; it is a way of highlighting a new mentality.”

Mr Frouzis points to Greece’s low ranking in corruption perception indices – a metric he believes deters investment. “It’s up to us to try and change this and to improve the public perception. The general public needs this desperately and it will encourage investors and speed up the process of recovery,” he said.

“It’s up to us to try and change this and to improve the public perception. The general public needs this desperately and it will encourage investors and speed up the process of recovery”

The high unemployment sparked by the Euro crisis has led to a loss of human capital in Greece as people – often the most highly skilled – went abroad to work.

Mr Frouzis believes instituting the SFEE code provides an opportunity to draw attention to the relationship between the innovative pharma industry and Greece’s healthcare system and its role in promoting the development and adoption of new medicines.

Before the crisis, Greece’s healthcare system was enjoying significant investment. Although austerity measures led to cuts, there is still an underlying strength and high standards. “In drawing attention to this and contributing to a revival, particularly in terms of access to medicines, the industry can contribute to inspiring Greek doctors and scientists, reducing – and maybe even reversing – the brain drain,” Mr Frouzis said.

Awareness campaign

Mr Frouzis was speaking as a month-long national awareness campaign organised by SFEE to discuss the code with medical associations, healthcare organisations, the health ministry and other stakeholders, drew to a close.

“All the opinions expressed in this time were positive: there is general agreement that the only way to move forward is to make interactions visible and to strengthen them. We don’t want any shadows around this relationship,” said Mr Frouzis.

However, Mr Frouzis does not underestimate the scale of the task. “This will require a transition period – it is in effect a big change management programme, it calls for a change of culture.”

Commitment to change

Speaking at the launch of the SFEE code in Athens in October, Greece’s health minister, Makis Voridis welcomed the initiative and said the government will promote legislation to impose the requirement to disclose on healthcare professionals. With elections looming in Greece next year, it is not clear how soon such a law would be passed and Mr Frouzis said SFEE is in parallel proceeding on the basis that compliance is voluntary.

While he thinks “a good chunk” of physicians will comply, the indications are that some will not. However, Mr Frouzis is confident the SFEE’s member companies will be ready to start collecting and collating data from the start of 2015.

SFEE’s 70 members account for more than 95 percent of the medicines market in Greece. “The companies are committed and will start implementation in a timely manner. It’s quite a thorny task preparing the ground and setting up the systems, but I strongly believe all our members will be ready.”

“It won’t be plain sailing, but we are committed to make this happen,” the President of SFEE concluded.

Konstantinos Frouzis is the president of the SFEE (Association of Pharmaceutical Industries in Greece). He is also a Chemical Engineer and a Chemist and holds three post graduate diplomas in Engineering, Energy and Financial Management studies.