Tracking down rare drugs is laborious work, requiring extensive knowledge and experience. Of the 20 employees at INO-Pharm, 10 are highly specialised in obtaining drugs as the regulations tied to the importation of unlicensed medicines is strict. These experts not only know the manufacturers of rare medicines but are also well-versed in the regulatory environment. They understand how drugs are imported and are familiar with the procedures of the regulatory authorities. Every year, they track down between 140 and 170 different products and have them sent to patients seeking help in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.
It is not unusual for certain drugs to be unavailable, particularly in smaller countries where high registration fees for medicines often make it unprofitable for pharmaceutical manufacturers. For this very reason, Specific Pharma, a PHOENIX group subsidiary in Denmark, handles the importation of pharmaceuticals for which approval has not yet been applied for in the respective countries. This subsidiary has approximately 1,000 drugs permanently in stock. In 2018, Specific Pharma provided 2,500 urgently needed medicines to patients.