Sunday, 31 October 2021

750th Anniversary of First Mention of Trogir Pharmacy, Oldest in Croatia, Marked

ZAGREB, 31 Oct, 2021 - The Split School of Medicine on Tuesday officially marked the 750th anniversary of the first mention of the Trogir apothecary and the beginning of pharmacy in Croatia.

The executive director of the Croatian Pharmaceutical Society (HFD), Maja Jakševac Mikša, said that pharmacy started to develop very early in Dalmatia, noting that the HFD was almost certain that there had been apothecaries in the area of Trogir even before 1271 but there were no written documents about it.

"The document we have concerns the sale of the apothecary but it is unlikely that someone founded an apothecary and sold it right away, so we can say that the apothecary had existed for about ten years before the year in question, and then pharmacies started emerging from Zadar to Dubrovnik. We have the most information on the pharmacy of the Friars Minor in Dubrovnik because it has continued operating to this day, which is a unique case in the world," said Jakševac Mikša.

The head of the Trogir Town Museum, Fani Celio Cega, said that the small town of Trogir had its pharmacy in 1271 when the first pharmacy was opened in Cologne.

"The Trogir pharmacy was unfortunately not preserved because it was located in a block of houses that no longer exists... unlike the Dubrovnik pharmacy, which was established later," said Celio Cega.

The original legal document on the Trogir pharmacy, dated 29 October 1271, is kept in Trogir. That date is considered the beginning of development of pharmacy in Croatia. Pharmacy in Croatia, notably in the area of Dalmatia, started developing very early, in parallel with its development in Europe, where the first pharmacies emerged already in the 12th century and pharmacy blossomed in the 13th century.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Chemist Team Makes Progress in Life Formation Research

June 10, 2021 -  Do you ever wonder how life was formed? Always dedicated to scientific progress, the Ruđer Bošković Institute chemist team made progress in life formation research supporting the theory that the first molecules needed to develop life were formed on the surfaces of minerals in pre-historic times.

Science explores our present reality, but also the past. With many knowledge or credible theories on evolution, the very basic questions such as „how life came to form“, remain unclear. But why?

„Given that condensation (the process of water vapor turning back into liquid) of free amino acids is thermodynamically unfavoruable process in the water medium, it is a great mystery how it came to the formation of peptides before life on earth“, states the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) press release.

It's worth noting that the thermodynamically unfavourabale process means the process is irreversible, which means it can't be reconstructed, and that's why scientists can see the formation of peptides, chains that connect amino acids that are crucial for life.

So, meet prebiotic chemistry – a study of chemistry dedicated to address and discover how organic compounds formed and self-organized for the origin of life, but so far without consensus.

But, progress is made once again thanks to the always active IRB. IRB's chemist team (José G. Hernández, dr Krunoslav Užarević, and Ph.D. student Tomislav Stolar,), in collaboration with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company Xellia (dr. sc. Ernest Meštrović, mag. chem. Saša Grubešić and dr. Nikolaom Cindro from the chemical department at the Faculty of Science (PMF), University of Zagreb), showed that with mechanochemical activation in a solid-state, the amino acids (organic compounds that combine to form proteins, with both being considered „the building blocks of life“) - such as glycine or alanine form peptides on mineral surfaces.

This supports the theory that life molecules could've been formed on Earth's mineral surfaces. The paper titled „Mechanochemical Prebiotic Peptide Bond Formation“, published in the prestigious Angewandte Chemie scientific journal published on behalf of the German Chemical Society presents these findings in greater detail.


Stolar, Užarević and Hernandez © Ruđer Bošković Institute

„In this research, we showed that mechanochemical activation of free glycin ground with ball mill allows the new oligomers (molecules made of few similar or identical repeating units) by adding minerals that are basic components of earth surface and meteorites. With the identification of organic and inorganic molecules present in the Solar system, it's important in laboratory conditions to develop suitable processes that would explain the presence of these molecules. Such fundamental knowledge can then be applied in modern synthetical chemistry“, said a member of the IRB chemist team Tomislav Stolar. Stolar also participated in developing a new material known as CuZn-MOF-74 on which TCN previously wrote about.

The research was financed by the  Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ), and the next step is to apply this knowledge to synthesize new chemicals, which was one of the purposes of the research described by HRZZ.

IRB adds that the fact that various geological processes change the earth's surface, there is no historic evidence that could definitely answer how life on Earth was formed. It is believed that the first simple molecules triggered complex molecules to form in a process called chemical evolution and from that, life further continued to develop. Liquids, solid surfaces, or the phases between the two could've been potential conditions for these reactions, and mechanical energy sources were most likely found in meteor strikes, erosion, earthquakes, and more while thermal energy was most likely supplied by geothermal sources.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Gov't and Drug Wholesalers Reach Deal on Debt Settlement

ZAGREB, 14 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the government and representatives of drug wholesalers had reached agreement on a debt settlement scheme.

The issue of the debt made the wholesalers restrict and defer the deliveries of medicines to hospitals in late March.

"Today's meeting is one more step towards the debt settlement," Minister Beroš said adding that only together the two sides could solve this decades-long issue which became exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić outlined the elements of the scheme.

In the next three months we will transfer some funds to the Croatian Agency for Health Insurance (HZZO), and the Health Ministry so as to enable the cash flow in those institutions and enable them to pay liabilities towards wholesalers and providers, Marić said adding that those funds would be ensured through the redirection and reallocation of outlays in the state budget.

The monthly allocation for hospitals will be HRK 600 million and an additional 300 million for pharmacies.

In June, the government is likely to conduct a budget revision whereby an additional cash inflow for hospitals and pharmacies will be ensured so that debt deferment period lasts no longer than 180 days for hospitals and 120 days for pharmacies.

In June alone, 135 million kuna will be directed to pharmacies and HRK 760 million to hospitals, with the plan to respect the deferment periods in the remainder of the year.

Marić hopes that this scheme will remove any need for any new meeting with wholesalers on the debt.

The finance minister also expects reform efforts in preventing any  further accumulation of liabilities and in this context he mentioned the plan to cut the deferment period to 60 days.

The wholesalers' representative Diana Percač thanked the ministers for efforts to provide funds to cover the debt.

She also pledged the continuation of the delivery of drugs to pharmacies until the end of this year.

(€1 = HRK 7.571658)

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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš: "Drug Suppliers Clearly Told Gov't Wants to Settle Debt Problem"

ZAGREB, 6 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Tuesday that today's meeting with drug wholesalers was a clear sign that the government wanted to solve the debt problem, while Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said additional payments might be made so that drug supply ran smoothly.

"Today's meeting is a clear signal that we wish to solve this problem through joint effort. The meeting was constructive and Minister Marić left open the possibility of additional funds to make sure that drug wholesalers supply the health system regularly," Beroš told the press, reiterating that increasing health contributions was not being considered.

The meeting focused on short-term solutions and the debt repayment schedule, but the government is discussing healthcare reforms that will lead to long-term solutions, Beroš said.

"We presented to drug wholesalers our determination to embark on reforms and our willingness to settle the debt," he said, but added that the Croatian Health Insurance Fund had to redirect HRK 2.5 billion for the treatment of COVID-19 patients instead of regular healthcare.

"This government will do everything so that not one citizen remains without the medicines they need. Last week we found a way through direct payment for medicines necessary for life-threatening conditions, including for cancer patients."

The HRK 900 million ensured for drug wholesalers last week is part of the search for a solution, Beroš said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Tuesday, 30 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Part of Debt to Drug Wholesalers to be Paid in Days Ahead

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Health Minister Vili Beroš would meet with drug wholesalers over the debt for drugs and that a certain amount would be paid in the days ahead.

Representatives of drug wholesalers, pharmacists and drug manufacturers warned last week that the supply of medicines could be restricted due to the HRK 6.5 billion debt, and the Medika company today suspended deliveries to hospitals.

Visiting Osijek-Baranja County, Plenković told press this was a usual situation. "Every once in a while, when an important date is due, whether Christmas, Easter or election day, wholesale drug suppliers unanimously start asking for the money they are due."

"We'll talk about it, the ministers of finance and health will meet with them and certain funds will be paid in the days ahead."

Asked about the payment date, Plenković said the ministers would discuss it. "I'm not an accountant to talk with them about the exact payment date."

The CEO of Oktalpharma, Ivan Klobučar, supported Medika's move, telling N1 television that the government, the Health Ministry, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund and Minister Beroš had been ignoring their appeals for a meeting for three months.

He said the situation was such that those responsible would see how difficult the situation was when "patients and others who are not at fault at all bear the brunt." If someone urgently needs a medicine, they will not get it, he added.

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Friday, 22 January 2021

Plenković: EU Must Insist on Agreements Reached with Pharmaceutical Companies

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - The European Council agrees that the EU must insist on the agreements reached with pharmaceutical companies on the quantities and deliveries of vaccines against coronavirus, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"We have asked the European Commission president to insist in talks with Pfizer and Moderna, and hopefully soon with AstraZeneca as well, on the agreed quantities of vaccine and dynamics of delivery so that people can be vaccinated as soon as possible," Plenković told a press conference in Zagreb following a virtual conference of the European Council on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night.

Croatia started administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after Christmas, while Moderna's vaccine arrived last week and the initial shipment was sent to the earthquake-devastated Petrinja area. The European Medicines Agency is expected to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine on 29 January.

"It is fascinating that processes that otherwise take 10 years were finalised within a year and that we, not just Croatia but the EU and all countries in the world as well, were able to get a vaccine for a new disease so quickly," Plenković said.

He said that many EU leaders had expressed concern about new strains of the coronavirus, including a more contagious one in the United Kingdom.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Croatian Drug Manufacturers Call for Effective EU Pharmaceutical Strategy

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - The Association of Drug Manufacturers (UPL) with the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) has called for the adoption of an effective EU pharmaceutical strategy to ensure equal access to drug production and supplies for the benefit of patients and the healthcare systems both in Croatia and the EU.

The UPL on Monday sent an open letter to all relevant stakeholders, including Croatian members of the European Parliament, the Croatian Ministry of Health and the Croatian Parliament's Committee on Health and Social Policy, to make maximum efforts and support the adoption of a robust EU pharmaceutical strategy that would work for the benefit of patients and the national healthcare systems in the European Union and Croatia.

Such a strategy would also reinforce the domestic pharmaceutical industry as the most important partner to the Croatian healthcare system and the strongest manufacturing industry in the country, the UPL said in the letter.

The future pharmaceutical strategy would support innovation in the EU pharmaceutical industry and the European manufacture of drugs and active pharmaceutical substances and thus help improve and accelerate patients' access to safe and affordable medicines, it added.

The new EU pharmaceutical strategy is expected to be adopted by the European Commission by the end of this year.

With its open letter the UPL joined Medicines for Europe, the organisation representing the European generic, biosimilar and valued added pharmaceutical industries, in setting five key priorities - supply security, sustainable and affordable budgets for medicines, aligning regulation on medicines with the digital age, retaining and supporting manufacturing technologies of interest to Europe, and aligning the objectives of the industry with the objectives of public healthcare.

The UPL said that more than 60 percent of the medicines used by patients in Croatia come from its members, which is why it considers the new EU pharmaceutical strategy key for the overall stability of the healthcare system and the successful functioning of the economy as a whole.

The UPL members generate about HRK 7 billion in annual revenues, including as much as HRK 5 billion from exports, UPL chairman Mihael Furjan said. 

The Croatian pharmaceutical industry exports its products to about 60 countries round the world, including the United States and EU member states.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

VAT Equalisation: Bell Tolls for Purchasing OTC Drugs Over the Border?

In what will come as very welcome news for many OTC medication users across the country, the Pharmacy Chamber has stated that owing to VAT equalisation, the retail prices of OTC drugs will be reduced by an average of 17 to 18 percent.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of November, 2018, with the entry into force of the new VAT law, which will equalise the tax rate for all medicines, tax on non-prescription medicines will be reduced from 25 percent to 5 percent by the beginning of 2019, which is why their retail prices will be significantly lower and those in Croatia will hopefully cease buying their medicines over the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies can expect the growth of the sale of these drugs owing to the tax cuts on OTC medication for which the Croatian pharmaceutical sector has been calling for years.

As it is known, the VAT equalisation regards analgesic drugs, for the treatment of gastroenterological problems, drugs for help with allergies, as well as vitamins. It should be noted that it doesn't include all vitamins, only those registered as actual medicines will see a price drop.

The equalisation of the tax rate does not bring direct benefits to producers themselves, but potential benefits may be experienced by drug distributors if they raise their sales margins, this will include both hypermarkets and pharmacies.

Despite the good news, the aforementioned VAT equalisation isn't going to come into force just yet. In Croatia, the pharmacy chamber claims that the retail prices of OTC medicines will be reduced only at the beginning of 2019.

"In addition, price reductions will be welcomed at the time of seasonal illness when the need for non-prescription drugs increases. Patients have so far been able to go to neighbouring countries for drugs to lower their temperature and reduce pain, precisely because of the price difference, where the national budget also lost out,'' they say.

Pliva explains that this change will not affect their business as VAT is a neutral item for producers, but although Pliva doesn't plan to change its producer prices, they believe this will contribute to the increased availability of non-prescription drugs.

"With this, we've become closer to most European countries where, in line with the EU guidelines, two drugs, regardless of the way they are issued, have the same tax to ensure product competitiveness and market competition,'' explains Mihael Furjan, CEO of Pliva.

For Belupo's business, whose non-prescription drugs account for around 19 percent on the Croatian market, this is very good news, as they plan to strengthen their OTC medication segment in terms of their total sales.

"Therefore, Belupo, independently and as a member of CASI (Association of Non-Receptive Products Manufacturers), actively advocated equalising the VAT rate for non-prescription drugs, led by the practice of 27 European countries applying the same VAT rate, and to all medicines, irrespective of the issuing regime, and respecting the principle of neutrality when it comes to the tax treatment of similar goods,'' they explain from Belupo.

In Rijeka, JGL argues that, with a 20 percent drop in prices, this measure should certainly stimulate self-assimilation and dismantle the withdrawal of medicines from the national insurer.

The Rijeka-based company says that in their semi-annual report, they have secured the growth of total business thanks to the growth of the OTC medication segment, which is growing faster than the domestic average.

PharmaSu also expects the higher consumption of OTC drugs.

"In addition, the state has not only boosted spending, but savings on drugs which are given on prescription, and have similar therapeutic parallels in OTC status. This is mostly related to pain and cold medicines,'' said PharmaSu's Jerko Jakšić.

Expectedly, the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers at the Croatian Employers' Association has naturally welcomed the equalisation of the VAT rate, and recalls that the EU Directive on VAT permits EU member states to apply a reduced rate to pharmaceutical products for the purpose of sickness prevention and treatment. They of course expect this to have a direct and positive impact on the Croatian health system.

"Non-prescription drugs are easier to come by and more widely available than prescription drugs are, there's no waiting around and seeing doctors involved. Reducing the VAT rate on OTC medicines will make them more accessible to consumers as it will lower the cost of the drug, and will therefore reduce the pressure on prescribing medications, and this will have a positive impact on the health budget, as it's self-relieving, without burdening the system,'' they point out from this sectoral Association.

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Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 26 October 2018

New Pharmacy to Open in Korčula Town Next Week

On Monday, 29th of October, Korčula Pharmacy will open their new pharmacy store.


The newly opened location for the pharmacy will be within the Tommy Shopping centre, which has become a central point for just about all shopping needs for people of Korčula and their visitors, just above the city centre. 

As is customary with the openings, there will be a bit of a celebration on the opening day in the new pharmacy, there will be gifts and various samples given to first visitors and quite a lot of popular cosmetics products will be discounted 20% (one can really not expect actual medicines to be discounted, but La-roche, Vichy, Lerbolario, Avene, A-derma, Ducray, Klorane and Elancyl cosmetics will certainly get a lot of people interested enough). 

The new pharmacy will be open Monday to Fridays from 7 am until 8 pm, on Saturdays it will work in the morning (7 am until noon) and in the afternoon (6 pm until 8 pm), and on Sundays it will just be open in the morning (9 am to 11 am). 

The existing pharmacy, located at the centre of the Korčula town, right next to the main town entrance, will remain open and continue working, although the company says that it will from now on be a "specialised drug retail store Farmacija Korčula" (what exactly that phrase means remains to be seen), as they do not want to break the tradition of pharmacies in the centre of Korčula town. That tradition is not as historically important as is the history of pharmacies in, say, Dubrovnik, but still, it's worth preserving. The pharmacy in the town centre will be open Monday to Fridays 8 am until 3 pm, and Saturdays morning, 8 am until noon. On Sundays, it will be closed. 

To follow the latest from the island of Korčula, check out the TCN dedicated website to the island of Marco Polo