25 Years Anniversary

On 9 November 2021, the Hungarian Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers celebrated its 25th anniversary with an anniversary conference. The conference, held in the building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, was attended by key players from the Hungarian healthcare sector and distinguished guests from abroad, representing the pharmaceutical supply chain, authorities, partner associations, member companies and all past and present leaders who have made significant achievements in the field of pharmaceutical wholesaling.

Dr Antal Feller, President of the Hungarian Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (HAPW), host of the event, highlighted in his welcome speech that especially during the last two years, during the COVID pandemic, the Hungarian pharmaceutical wholesale sector has proven that it is a secure point in the changing world, it is able to cooperate, it is flexible, its operation is stable, predictable and it is prepared to fully meet the new challenges.

In her opening speech, Dr Györgyi Lengyel, Ministerial Commissioner and patron of the conference, spoke about the role of the state in the development of the health industry, the increasing importance of the security of supply and the safety of medicines, and the pharmaceutical industry as the most prominent flagship of the health industry. The Hungarian pharmaceutical wholesale sector is a key player with complex function in the supply of medicines. Companies in the sector play a key role in ensuring that people have safe and continuous access to the therapies they need through pharmacies and hospitals.

Bernd Grabner, President of the European Healthcare Distribution Association (GIRP), focused his presentation on the pharmaceutical wholesaler's involvement in the distribution of COVID vaccines. Wholesalers have shown that they are key players in ensuring a smooth supply of medicines. As a result, the mindset of policy makers is changing and wholesalers need to achieve to reverse the downward trend in margins to cover their costs. Mr Grabner also spoke about how European countries can respond to the challenges of the COVID pandemic and outlined the priorities for GIRP, including fair and equitable access to medicines and drug shortages.

"In the future, the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition wants to be an efficient, customer-friendly, responsibly managed, environmentally conscious organisation that uses modern digital solutions", said Dr Mátyás Szentiványi, Director General of the Institute, in his introduction. In this sense, OGYÉI would like to fulfil its mission to contribute to the creation of a health-conscious Hungary, also in cooperation with the pharmaceutical wholesalers. In his presentation, the Director General outlined the expectations of OGYÉI as the authority supervising the entire pharmaceutical supply chain towards wholesalers. He spoke, among other things, about the operation of the system of medical recalls, serialisation, inspection experiences and cooperation between wholesalers and the authority in the field of counterfeit medicines. He expressed his gratitude to the companies of the sector and stressed that the pharmaceutical wholesale sector is the most important pillar of Hungarian medicine safety - through the closed distribution channel no counterfeit medicines have reached the patients in Hungary.

Dr József Bodrogi, health economist, spoke about the challenges and current issues facing the various actors in the Hungarian healthcare system. The speaker presented the development of drug subsidies in the last 10 years, the challenges of epidemic management, the global issues affecting healthcare professionals and the issue of big data. He spoke about global trends such as the shift from specialised care to primary care and the difficulties of financing healthcare, which is also a global problem.

Dr Antal Feller, President and Tamás Kaló, Vice President of HAPW outlined the role of pharmaceutical wholesaling in healthcare, the tasks of the sector and the future challenges. The Association was briefly presented, with its current 8 member companies covering more than 95% of the pharmacy market. The Hungarian pharmaceutical wholesale sector has caught up with European standards, and is undergoing dynamic development in terms of service quality. In the last 5 years, the member companies have carried out 16 billion HUF worth of developments and investments. They spoke about the contribution of pharmaceutical wholesaling to the efficient and safe functioning of the pharmaceutical supply system. They also summarised the experiences of the COVID-19 period and the challenges for wholesalers, of which a big challenge was to meet the requirements for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The future challenges for pharmaceutical wholesalers are to develop strategic and operational cooperation with the actors of the sector, to play a role in solving the challenges of the coming years, to strengthen the role of wholesalers as a value-preserving, connecting link - bridge - and facilitator of change.

Erik Bogsch, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Richter Gedeon Plc. also spoke about security of supply, safety of medicines and an efficient IT background. Privatisation has also played a key role in the huge development of the pharmaceutical supply as a whole. Wholesale has the biggest role to play in ensuring security of supply and combating counterfeit medicines.

In a round table discussion, the actors of the pharmaceutical supply chain looked at the experiences of the last five, but especially the last one and a half years from several angles. The experts discussed how the COVID pandemic has changed the supply of medicines, how cooperation and communication between the actors in the sector can be improved and how pharmacy services will change in the future.

Five persons were awarded the Pro Sanitate Agiliore prize, founded by the Hungarian Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers in 2016, in recognition of their effective and persistent work in the service of pharmaceutical wholesale.

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On the occasion of the 25th anniversary, we asked Monika Derecque-Pois, Director General and Bernd Grabner, President of the European Healthcare Distribution Association (GIRP) to share with us what they think about the activities of pharmaceutical wholesalers, how they see us, how they consider our collaboration and our role in the market, and how they recall the achievements of our cooperation.