Following a battering by the 2008 global financial crisis and the austerity policies the country was forced to implement, Romania’s economy has rebounded well over the past few years, allowing the oft-overlooked Eastern European country to top the European Union table with enviable economic growth rates of around three to four percent over the past couple of years. However, this cheery picture does not extend to the healthcare industry, which has suffered through nearly two decades of chronic underinvestment as well as a debilitating instability in leadership.
Stakeholders across the entire healthcare spectrum in the country – from government to industry to patient associations to healthcare professionals – have enumerated the various challenges facing the Romanian healthcare ecosystem. From inadequate public investment at half the level of the European average to a crippling and exceptional ‘clawback tax’ imposed on the pharmaceutical industry that effectively compels the industry to subsidize one out of every four patients in the public health system, not to mention the lengthy and unpredictable clinical trial and drug approval timelines that complicate patient access to new innovations, the laundry list of needed fixes to the Romanian healthcare system is long.
The gloomy picture belies the true potential of the Romanian market, which is the seventh-largest country in the European Union in terms of population with nearly 20 million people. Romania is also a rapidly ageing country, which will only see healthcare needs continue to grow in the near future. The strength of the Romanian medical education system is also evident in the diaspora of Romanian doctors and nurses that contribute to the healthcare systems across Europe. Nevertheless, the message from most stakeholders is crystal clear. Romania urgently needs to reform its public healthcare system.
While the wheels of change turn slowly, however, there are still exceptional talents in the country working tirelessly to effect change where they can and to adapt when they cannot. From tips to new general managers on how to respond to the hostile regulatory environment to strategic discussions about the best way to launch a product, from the surprising dynamism of the OTC market segment in Romania to the way general managers manage the hierarchal corporate culture, from case studies of how multinationals optimize patient access to the best examples of successful national programs – the Romania Healthcare and Life Sciences Review 2020 has it all. Whether they are the general managers of innovative or generic companies, legislative leaders or medical specialists, the stories of these enterprising individuals within stand testament to the admirable drive within the country to ensure that patients in Romania receive the best healthcare possible.