What does this occasion mean to you?
"It is a privilege to be part of an organization that is committed to supporting patients and putting their needs in front of public discourse. A key area that we need to address as a society is the stigma associated with mental health, where people living with schizophrenia and other disorders are dismissed, ignored and even marginalized. Society must understand that people living with mental health disorders, as well as their families and caregivers, are in need of all of our support in order to ensure the success of their treatments and that they are able to have a good quality of life. This includes not only education to the public, but also support and education for physicians and pharmacists, as well as support to national health system as health priorities are discussed and developed".
What initiatives have you organized?
"At Angelini, we collaborate with the Spanish psychiatry association in educational activities, such as a webinar that took place this week entitled “Esquizofrenia y covid”, supporting in treating their patients during this particular period. Angelini is part of the European Headway 2023 project and will be continuing and expanding the results of this important project through the development of a White Paper in mental health in Spain. Key elements of this project include working with regional governments to determine and develop local programs that evaluate and follow through on the national strategy for mental health; managing the increasing prevalence of concurrent physical and mental conditions associated with mental health disorders, including a significant reorientation of medical education and reorganization of health services to meet current needs, while keeping costs under control. Key here is a focus on the whole patient, with multidisciplinary medical teams, including primary care physicians as well as other pertinent specialties, and emphasizing the important role of patient organizations and families in the care of the people, focusing on prevention, assistance and support of patients’ recovery in work and social settings".
What is the mental health situation in Spain?
"18,3% of the population has at least one disorder related to mental health. 42,8 out of every 100,000 inhabitants die from mental and behavioral disorders, making it the fifth leading cause of death in this country. These are the cause of 8,1% of all-cause disability in Spain, which translates into a social cost as well as a health system cost of a total of 4,2% of Gdp. Despite this, only 5% of public investment in health is dedicated to this problem. The most recent references for Spain estimate the prevalence of schizophrenia at between 0,4% and 0,6% of the adult population. Today, people with schizophrenia are still 2 to 2,5 times more likely to die at a younger age than the population as a whole, and it is generally due to cardiovascular, metabolic, or infectious diseases. Despite its relatively low prevalence, in patients under 30 years, schizophrenia is the fifth highest cause of disability, surpassing traffic accidents, drug addiction or sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, schizophrenia generates a significant health and social cost. According to a study, schizophrenia may generate 1.970 million euro annual expenditure in Spain, or 2,7% of total healthcare expenditure, with 47% of total expenditure due to need for caregivers".
Has the pandemic complicated the situation?
"In addition to the statistics referenced above, Covid-19 has complicated treatment, specifically access to care. Much of the treatment is now done through telemedicine, but it has greatly impacted the level of care doctors want and need to provide for their patients".
Are there any specificities about health in your country?
"Yes, in particular, a challenge is that Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities without consistent individual guidelines and without the ability to easily collaborate across the regions. This makes projects like Headway 2023 and the work with the medical societies and patient associations critical to improved patient outcomes and quality of life".
Are there any common characteristics of European countries in this sense?
"The societal issues are common across Europe. The particularity in Spain has to do with the national health system priorities within mental health, and schizophrenia in particular. I believe there are similar issues across Europe, but here in particular, with the disparate regional health systems, and now exacerbated by Covid-19, there is an urgency in addressing the needs of the Spanish patients as well as in supporting the health system for better care and, importantly, access to care".
What are the main objectives that a pharmaceutical company like yours has on this topic?
"The priority are the patients and working towards better outcomes in their care, supporting them, the caregivers, and their healthcare team. To this end, collaborating with patient associations and the medical community is vital, supporting education and science to continually improve care. Important objectives for Angelini revolve around continuing to bring innovative, effective and safe treatments for people living with mental health disorders, balancing these needs with affordability necessary to support a sustainable national health system. In the end, we at Angelini Pharma Spain believe that what matters most is being an active part of a multidisciplinary team developing solutions for excellent care in mental health for years to come".