21 January 2024

Guarantee accessibility and effectiveness of medicines

One of five ambitions to continue building the European Health Union in our Health Check for Europe 2024-2029.
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The European Commission published its proposal for the revision of the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation in April 2023, marking a crucial juncture. The revision provides an opportunity to embrace a comprehensive approach to restore balance in the pharmaceutical sector in the interests of patients and healthcare systems.

Starting right at the beginning of the drug development process, the legislation must promote fair pricing, innovation, and accessibility. The revision provides an opportunity to address the inherent challenges posed by opaque pricing structures and a lack of competition. By extending reporting and transparency in research and development (R&D) costs, policymakers reduce the information asymmetries that national authorities face in pricing negotiations with industry and thus pave the way for fairer pricing of medicines across Europe.

Deepening medicine shortages have a negative impact on patient safety

The availability of medicines has been a long-standing challenge in the EU, however national medical associations have reported that shortages have become systemic and affect all types of medicinal products. Last winter, almost all EU countries reported shortages of commonly used medicines, including antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and diabetes medication.

Early notification of medicine shortages to public authorities is vital to provide timely information for effective crisis management and ensuring continuous access to essential medicines. As frontline advocates for patient well-being, European doctors call for a streamlined process that enables early notification, facilitating proactive responses and mitigating the impact of shortages on patient care.

Antimicrobial resistance crisis urgently needs greater European action

AMR is one of the greatest global health threats, causing 1.2 million deaths each year, more than 35 000 of which are in Europe. Bacteria have evolved ways to resist antibiotics, accelerated by overuse or misuse of medicines, including in agriculture.

Whilst the effectiveness of current antibiotics is decreasing, no novel class of antibiotics has been brought to market since the 1980s. In addition, this winter medicine shortages in most European countries left doctors and patients without access to critical antibiotics.

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