UKRAINIAN HEALTHCARE: Re-energizing Ukraine’s pharmaceutical sector

Reforming Ukraine healthcare services will boost the entire economy and strengthen Ukrainian society

“Your efforts have saved thousands of lives,” commented President Petro Poroshenko when granting Ukrainian citizenship to Michigan native Ulana Suprun on 11 July 2016. A fortnight later, Mrs. Suprun was appointed Ukraine’s acting Minister of Health, to the delight of many in Ukrainian civil society and the country’s anti-corruption supporters.

Ulana, a Detroit Clinical Professor in Pathology, moved to Ukraine with her husband during the Revolution of Dignity and launched Patriot Defense, a Non-Governmental Organization that has trained over 25,000 medical professionals and soldiers with first aid and trauma treatment over the last two years. She now faces a massive job in taking on one of the most challenging jobs that you can imagine - managing a system plagued with endemic corruption, the world’s second highest death rate, and an average life expectancy of 66 years for men. “We’re doing this for future generations. It’s going to be hard, nobody is saying this is going to be easy,” said Dr. Suprun.

Vision 2020

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine has been engaged for more than a decade in developing recommendations on how the healthcare sector should be reformed. Over a year ago, we published a report on the innovative pharmaceutical industry entitled: “Vision 2020: Roadmap for Development of the Pharmaceutical Sector in Ukraine” together with PwC Ukraine and APRaD (Association of Pharmaceutical Research and Development). This analytical paper outlines specific key steps needed to reboot the national pharma industry. This includes creating favorable conditions to conduct clinical research (trials); further increase the efficiency and transparency of the system of registration of medicinal products; develop and finance sufficiently reimbursement system of medicinal products; modify hospital procurement regime of medicinal products as well as enforce decent protection of intellectual property rights. By implementing all abovementioned steps, Ukraine will significantly improve the level of healthcare services and ensure continuous inflow of foreign direct investment into pharma.

Policy road map

The report presents a vision of the future, showing how the health of patients in Ukraine can be advanced with improvements in the efficiency of the healthcare system through development of the pharmaceutical sector. We base our approach on research that examines how best to strengthen the pharmaceutical industry, offering an analysis of ways to bring Ukraine into the top ranks of leading countries in biopharmaceutical innovation. While much work lies ahead, the report provides an achievable policy road map to guide policy-makers and industry. Critical to the success of this ambitious strategy is the establishment of effective dialogue between the pharmaceutical industry and the government. This is the indispensable first step. Our road map calls for joint efforts aimed at improving the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry in Ukraine.

Agreeing on common goals and implementing policy changes during the next few years will benefit Ukrainian patients and the global competitiveness of the strategic biopharmaceutical sector in the Ukrainian economy.

Among the causes of premature mortality in Ukraine, cardiovascular diseases account for 47.5% of the total number of deaths, while neoplasms account for another 14.3%. Thus, these two groups of disease account for approximately 62% of the economic losses associated with premature mortality in Ukraine. Improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these groups of diseases could serve as a significant contribution to both national health and the economy of Ukraine.

Health is wealth

Good health allows us to focus on professional goals, achieve success in our personal lives, and make a contribution to the development of our communities. On the national level, the healthcare industry plays a vital role in the country’s economic development. Quality healthcare provides for increased productivity, and, as a result, positively impacts the revenues of enterprises. Rapid development of highly intellectual sectors such as pharmaceutics ensures transfer of knowhow and the usage of modern technology, while also positioning the country as a brain basket and paving the way for the inflow of additional tax revenues. An advanced pharmaceutical industry translates into improving key life indicators.

Together we are striving for Ukrainian citizens to have greater access to modern and effective medicine, obtaining the benefits that will come with improvements in healthcare. If this is achieved, the Ukrainian pharmaceutical industry will become more attractive for investors, who will in turn fuel Ukraine’s growth as a leader in pharmaceutical innovation.

The Vision 2020 report is available in English and Ukrainian at