Janssen, the pharmaceuticals company part of Johnson&Johnson Romania, has invested EUR 1 million for R&D operations in the country, mainly for clinical studies in 2016 and company representatives say that the investment efforts will continue this year.

As part of its development efforts, the company also backs a hackathon that will take place in Romania in October, where start-ups can pitch new ideas for the health sector.

Christian Rodseth, managing director of Janssen Romania, says that the company plans to grow by 10 percent this year after reporting a turnover of EUR 100 million in 2016. He added that Janssen will launch new products on the local market next year, despite the challenges of drugs pricing and taxation.

Although the company has launched 14 innovative treatments between 2009 and 2014, only seven are available in Romania at this moment. Rodseth said that there were two drugs on which the company doesn’t make any money in Romania, but Janssen will continue to keep them on the market as there are no treatment alternatives.

The executive has outlined that one of the main challenges in Romania is the low reference price, which allows the transfer of products abroad through parallel exports. Also, the drugs budget has remained stuck at RON 6 billion for years and Rodseth said that the financing needs to grow for Romania to get closer to EU standards of medicine.

“Some of the policies around pricing makes it difficult for organizations and patients,” said the executive, adding that some products might leave the market due to the fiscal pressure. He said that Janssen doesn’t plan to withdraw any drug from Romania, despite the challenging environment.

Rodseth says that the current clawback tax system is unstable, with rates paid by pharma companies hovering around 18 – 20 percent. Echoing a common opinion from the association of innovative pharmaceuticals producers, he said that the clawback should be fixed at 16 percent, suggesting that the best solution would be for the state to scrap it.

“I hope that we can get at least to a fixed claw-back in Q4,” he said.

The pharma executive has pointed out that local authorities can explore the experiences of other EU member states on implementing risk-sharing agreements for new treatments and electronic registries so that health bodies can have a better grasp on the therapeutical effects of drugs prescribed to patients.

Janssen to launch new drugs and vaccines in next two years

The pharma producer plans to launch 10 new therapies and vaccines in at global level by 2019, following significant investments in R&D which stood at USD 9.1 billion in 2016 alone.

Locally, Jenssen focuses its research activities in neuroscience, oncology, hematology, immunology, heart and nutritional diseases and infectious diseases.

The company has eight R&D centers in EMEA out of the 21 centers across the globe.

“We are close to the treatment of our patients through support programs that we have implemented in neuroscience – schizophrenia, respectively oncology – prostate cancer,” said Cristian Benza, medical affairs director of Janssen Romania. He went on to say that Romania is one of the European markets in which the company finances clinical tests.

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