EU: Call to end disparity in access to innovative medicines

23 May 2017 | News
New approaches to drug regulation and reimbursement are needed to improve access to innovation, advance patients’ rights and ensure patients are involved in policy making and regulatory processes, according to speakers at the 11th European Patients’ Rights day, held in Brussels earlier this month

The event, organised by the Active Citizenship Network (ACN) provided a platform for an open discussion about challenges and new strategies that are needed to update regulatory systems in EU member states.

Speaking via video, health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, called for equitable, timely and sustainable access to healthcare, saying the Commission has put in place a number of initiatives to improve access to innovation. These include the cross-border health directive, the European Reference Networks and EUnetHTA, the European network for Health Technology Assessment (HTA).

“HTA is a valuable tool to support member states in moves to keep healthcare systems sustainable and open access to innovation,” Andriukaitis said.

According to ACN, “European legislation has provided many tools to facilitate the early availability of therapies. However, in many cases long national procedures for reimbursement can delay this. Unacceptable disparities persist in patients’ access, due to different pricing models, authorisation times, information accessibility, channels and criteria of distribution, in particular to innovative medicines. These disparities have been made even worse by the adoption of austerity measures and by the reduction of healthcare spending in many member states since 2009. Despite their differences, each national health system of EU member states should guarantee the same rights to patients and people in general.”

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Source: Active Citizenship Network, Photo © Elio German

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis giving opening remarks in a video message at the 11th Annual European Patients’ Rights Day on 10th May 2017.

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