Public health will finance a smoking cessation drug for the first time

The service portfolio of the National Health System will include for the first time a smoking cessation drug, which may be prescribed after a new protocol in primary care centers and from which the Ministry of Health estimates that they may benefit, upon entry, About 70,000 people.

This has been advanced to Efe by the acting Minister of Health, María Luisa Carcedo, who this week has passed through New York to attend the different summits on universal health and climate that have been held around the 74th session of the General Assembly from the ONU.

Until now, in Spain only some community like Navarra had subsidized smoking cessation treatments, so, with this decision, the Ministry now takes a step forward and will address this addiction nationally, which causes about 50,000 deaths annually in the country, with the subsidy of the active ingredient of Varenicline, whose reference trademark is 'Champix'.

The minister explained that her Ministry will take Varenicline to the next inter-ministerial commission of prices, which is held tomorrow, Monday, in the last step so that it is possible to finance it as a medicine for the disposal of tobacco.

"It is a matter of weeks before I enter the service portfolio," said Carcedo, who recalled that primary care physicians will have a prescription protocol for patients undergoing treatment and medical guidance for smoking cessation.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking, which brings together a quarantine of scientific and medical societies, has been claiming for two decades that the treatment of nicotine addiction should be part of the portfolio of primary care services, knowing that adequate treatment You can multiply up to 10 the chances of successfully quitting smoking compared to the isolated personal effort of the smoker without professional support.

In the opinion of professionals who struggle daily in the outpatients with this serious public health problem, the health administration should not fear for the cost of financing products that are effective and only use 3% of total smokers each year , demonstrating its suitability in financing experiences in Navarra or pilot programs in Catalonia.

Minister Carcedo, who has just promoted an advertising campaign against the consumption of all types of tobacco products, is also concerned with the effects of the consumption of electronic cigarettes and vapers.

"What we find with these new products of vaping is that we are not only facing medium and long-term damage, as with traditional tobacco," warns Carcedo, especially given the news coming from the United States, where the authorities have declared an "epidemic" by e-cigs, which are causing severe pneumonia and even deaths among the young population.

The minister rejects the theses of multinationals such as Philip Morris who market what they call "smokeless products": "It is being sold that they are to quit smoking when to quit smoking there are scientifically proven and effective methods, which we now address in the National System of Health in an orderly, systematic and scientific way, with the appropriate treatments ".

"What we propose to the public, for which we are fighting and it is our responsibility, is that we want to breathe clean air, not air with other different pollutants, new pollutants on which there is a lot of uncertainty and serious doubts about its safety for health, "says Carcedo, who has been at the UN General Assembly these days to defend an improvement in air quality and universal health.

The minister recalls that "the lungs are prepared to breathe clean air, the consequences of air pollution we are seeing them, and it is a paradox that when alerts are being made precisely on the effects of pollution ... we actively breathe substances that have effects that are very harmful to health and generate enormous uncertainties. "

Carcedo recalls that his Ministry is working with the idea of ​​modifying the tobacco law - "when there is an operational Government fully operational" - and proceed to regulate the new products linked to vaping, places of consumption and advertising: "We will have to expand the content and scope of the law to respond to the new reality. "

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