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MALTATODAY 13 December 2020

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TRUTH IS OF NO COLOUR WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT/COVID19 SUNDAY • 13 DECEMBER 2020 • ISSUE 1102 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY maltatoday JAMES DEBONO WHILE more than two-thirds (71%) of general practitioners intend taking the COVID-19 vaccine, only 30% of trainees intend to do likewise, according to a sur- vey carried out by a leading doctor. The survey was conducted in Septem- ber among 123 GPs and 62 trainees by the paediatrician Victor Grech, to ascer- tain the degree of vaccine hesitancy of GPs and GP trainees in Malta with re- gards to the COVID-19 vaccine. The survey was carried out before an intensification of the information cam- paign on COVID-19 and before major pharmaceutical companies announced efficacy rates of over 95% for vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy among trainee doctors COVID-19 MATTHEW VELLA TOP brass from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novar- tis have accused the Maltese government of breaking EU rules on medicine procure- ment. In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Robert Abela dated 2 December, the company accused the Mal- tese government of not fol- lowing EU rules on the way it procures its medicines. The matter has been ongo- ing since January 2020, but Novartis has complained that it has been ignored by the health minister, deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, in previous correspondence. Novartis is based in Ba- sel, Switzerland, and is the world's second largest phar- maceutical company based on prescription drug sales Novartis contends that the Central Procurement Supplies Unit, which is re- sponsible for all government procurement of medicinals, is bypassing local agents who already supply Novar- tis products and have read- ily-available stocks of re- quired medicines. Instead, the CPSU was ig- noring established importers who had stocks of required medicines, and procuring the same medicines from other importers with stocks from outside the EU. Novartis received no expla- nation as to why the CPSU has ignored the established procedure to tap into local stocks of medicinals, before seeking stocks elsewhere. The complaint concerns the supply of the Novartis medicine Cosentyx, a pre- scription medication that is used for plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and anky- losing spondylitis. The med- ication is especially impor- tant, being one of the most prescribed treatments of its kind as well as a biologic: a protein-based medication made from living sources, unlike so-called biosimilars. PAGE 4 Novartis writes to Prime Minister after CPSU bypassed local distributor and issued direct orders for Australian imports Big pharma accuses Malta of breaching EU medicines law 30 fantastic recipes for Christmas FREE with MaltaToday €1.95 mt survey After COVID-19, the Maltese find themselves increasingly worried about corruption PAGES 14-15 CORRUPTION RED ALERT Doctor blames 'unwise, insouciant attitude' among young PAGE 3

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