Friday, 17 September 2021

Health Minister Visits Site of Future Institute of Immunology Factory

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Friday visited the site of a future Institute of Immunology factory in Brezje near Sveta Nedelja, west of Zagreb, where the production of snake antivenom would be relaunched, to be followed by the production of plasma-derived products and child and other vaccines.

Institute of Immunology director Vedran Čardžić said that the construction of the factory, a project worth about HRK 100 million, should start at the end of 2022 or early 2023.

The factory's main product would be vaccines but there are plans to launch the production of antivenom for the duration of preparations for construction work and regulation of the related legal matters.

"We will launch the production of antivenom during preparations for the construction of the new factory. That unit will be part of the new factory which will focus on vaccines against children's diseases (measles). Those vaccines used to be produced by the Institute of Immunology and the state owns the master seeds which international experts say are the best because they give the best vaccination results owing to their properties," said Čardžić.

This is expected to be followed by the launch of production of plasma-derived products and potential adoption of technologies for the production of newer virus vaccines in cooperation with partners, which is being negotiated, he said.

Minister Beroš said that this spring Croatia was faced with a shortage of antivenom, and even though the problem was quickly solved, he noted that as a tourist destination, Croatia should be able to rely on its own antivenom production.

He noted that antivenom production was expected to start before the next tourist season, adding that current employees of the Institute of Immunology would make up the core of the research staff at the new factory.

Čardžić also pointed to the need to attract new experts, noting that he would contact universities to inquire about successful students nearing graduation who would be interested in working at the Institute of Immunology.

Sveta Nedelja Mayor Dario Zurovec expressed hope the project would be a sustainable model of public-private partnership, announcing support by local authorities.

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Monday, 17 May 2021

Croatia Exports Blood Plasma, Imports Expensive Drugs Made From It

May the 17th, 2021 - In yet another absurdity, Croatia exports blood plasma every year and then purchases typically quite expensive medications made precisely from it, reaching eye-watering figures of more than one hundred million kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatia imports expensive drugs made from blood plasma annually, the process reaches more than one hundred million kuna. None of that would be particularly unusual if the plasma used for these expensive drugs wasn't Croatian. Sadly, this is the case, but it can only be processed in order for these drugs to be made outside of the country.

Of all Croatian paradoxes, of which there are a great many, this one might take the biscuit. Croatia exports blood plasma and then buys it back in the form of drugs for incomprehensible sums of money. It wasn't like that in the past.

Once upon a time, this entire process was dealt with by the Institute of Immunology until it all came to an end in 2013.

Now, the Institute of Immunology only collects this Croatian blood plasma in transfusion centres, and then sends outside the country, to Octapharm, and then returns it back to Croatia as a finished product - immunoglobulins and albumins, as reported by 24sata.

According to Slobodna Dalmacija, the Institute of Immunology purchases a litre of blood plasma from transfusion centres for a price of 200 kuna, and then sells it on to the Swiss Octapharma for 300 kuna. That blood plasma is then returned to Croatia in medicines that were once produced by the Institute of Immunology itself. These drugs are becoming more and more expensive due to increasingly rigorous blood tests, which only adds more frustration to this illogical situation.

Doses of albumin made by the Institute of Immunology apparently ranged from 270 to 430 kuna, and doses of immunoglobulin from 650 to about 1250 kuna. Processing plasma into drugs is a lucrative business and is now run by a Swiss company.

The director of the Institute of Immunology, Vedran Cardzic, denies the aforementioned prices at which they buy and then sell the blood plasma, and says that those prices all depend on the type of plasma in question.

''The price of the plasma is defined by the contract between the Institute of Immunology and Octapharma in accordance with the prices of plasma on the market, and the price of the drugs is defined within the prices of drugs from HZZO's list,'' they said from the Ministry of Health when asked if Croatia sells cheap blood plasma, only for it to be returned in the form of expensive medication.

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