Sublingual Immunotherapy in Ukraine nowadays

Interview with Natalia Gordiieva, chief operating officer at Asac Pharmaceutical Immunology´s new distributor in Ukraine.

Natalia Gordiieva is the Chief Operating Officer at Asac Pharmaceutical Immunology´s new distributor in Ukraine. This company that was founded in 2012, is a distributor of ACIT-therapy allergy vaccines all over Ukraine. Besides, they provide allergy testing and allergy vaccines treatment based on their own private clinics. The company is located in Kiev, Ukraine, and is also a manufacturer of bacteriophages cocktails sold in UA, as well as for export.

  1. Did you already sell allergy vaccines before starting with Asac Pharmaceutical Immunology vaccine? Do you sell other products for the allergy niche?

Our company was the first company in Ukraine which stepped on the field of ACIT-therapy and launched the first sales of allergy vaccines of EU manufacture in 2012-2014 (Sevapharma A.s., Prague, Czech Republic). Later on, between 2014 and 2020 our company was the official distributor of the ACIT-therapy allergy vaccines by Diater Laboratorio de Diagnóstico y Aplicaciones, S.A. Spain.

  1. Why did you choose our sublingual treatment to enter the Ukrainian allergen immunotherapy market?

Before the Russian aggression, local market was growing pretty fast because of increasing demand combined with few manufacturers presented on the market. Quality, safety and efficacy profiles of your sublingual treatment were the selection of clinicians as well as patients to start the treatment.  Good service and availability of the products according to treatment seasons were the key factors for the doctors to prescribe Asac Pharmaceutical Immunology products.

  1. What does our sublingual vaccine offer you?

Your sublingual vaccine offers main range of allergens in effective concentrations which are required by allergy practitioners in Ukraine, as well as covers most of the demands of the patients. The use of your sublingual treatments during the last 2 years shows that the products are effective and safe, not to forget the reliability and flexibility of the manufacturer.

  1. How has allergenic pathology developed in Ukraine in recent years?

According to doctors, the number of patients is increasing: climate change, environment deterioration and, as a consequence, decreased immunity in people. There are more and more children, allergy is getting younger.

The older generation is less susceptible to allergies, and is less likely to seek this kind of of help, for social reasons.

  1. What are the prevalent aeroallergens in Ukraine and how does the weather affect to allergy?

Dust mites, grasses like ambrosia and timothy, spring trees like birch and alder, alternaria and cats are the most common allergens in UA. Global warming leads to longer blooming and activity season.

Patients are being affected by allergens for longer period, used to be 1-2 months per year, now it reaches to 4-6.

  1. What is the distribution chain for immunotherapy in Ukraine? Has the conflict had any impact on it?

Before the war the distribution was made through our clinics in accordance with the doctor’s prescriptions. Some of the products were supplied to other clinics under orders depending on the patients they make the service for.

Evidently, during the war the distribution chain has been broken. The products cannot be supplied to the occupied regions, many Ukrainians who could afford ACIT-therapy left the country as refugees or had to cut their expenses due to job loss and many other factors caused by this war. All that eventually resulted in a drastic drop in sales.

  1. How have you been able to resolve the added difficulties in importing vaccines during this phase?

It goes without saying that any war doesn’t offer a variety of instruments to resolve difficulties it generates. However, we have found the logistics possibilities to import the products into Ukraine by changing a bit our supply chain, as well as deliver them to the clinics with patients who still demand ACIT therapy in UA, as well as we are trying to serve them even abroad with the assistance of the manufacturer which we appreciate so much.

  1. Has the population’s access to treatment been greatly affected by the conflict?

Dramatically, as mentioned before. Fewer and fewer patients can afford ACIT treatment during the war due to actual absence of the health insurance coverage system.

  1. How is your company helping to ameliorate these difficulties in accessing medicines?

We add a very little margin to the vaccines prices in order to help the patients with the treatment and are doing everything possible to guarantee the timely and regular supply despite of the situation and obstacles. Being present in the market with the full range of allergens required makes it possible even to convert the patients from other competitor’s products.

  1. What has been the most difficult stage in maintaining supply?

The main challenge is to rapidly deliver the consignment under the cold chain taking into account that the air traffic with UA is discontinued and international courier services do not operate in UA after 24/02/2022.

  1. What response have you had from doctors and patients?

The doctors and patients know they can rely on us whilst their feedback evidences the products have good safety and efficacy profile. At the same time the doctors are also asking for the possibility of standardization of the products on Ukrainian patients.

  1. How do you see the short to medium term future for allergen immunotherapy in Ukraine?

It depends on the terms of the war, first of all. The longer it continues the worse impact it will have on the healthcare and people in general.

Currently and in short term the patients of Ukraine are very much dependent on availability of the treatment and possibility to have access to ACIT-therapy. That’s what our current sales show.

As life returns to more or less normal, whatever it can be, there could definitely be a growing demand for healthcare services in general, including allergy treatments, as people postponed seeking medical care during the war due to being involved or affected by military actions, economic reasons or limited access to Ukrainian healthcare facilities.

The war also results in an increase in environmental factors that can trigger allergies, such as dust, smoke, and pollution. This could potentially lead to an increase in the prevalence of allergies in affected areas, which would further impact the demand.

For the future, we also expect that is would be possible to significantly expand the range of allergens as well as their forms.

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