Patient access to medicines: is there a role for the EU?
The EU legislative agenda around healthcare has been scaled back under the Juncker Commission, yet the debate around a number of hot topics seems to suggest a need for an EU presence. One of these hot topics is the patient access to medicines in the EU. An increase in new and innovative medicines represents not only hope for patients and a breakthrough for a number of diseases such as hepatitis or cancer, it is also accompanied by the inevitable concern around costs.
- New mechanisms to improve access to medicines for patients while addressing the sustainability challenges of healthcare systems could take the form of joint purchasing. In the field of orphan drugs, discussions are already well-advanced on the benefits for countries joining forces on price negotiations.2 Other discussion points, with interested Member States, include introducing differentiated prices that take account of objective economic and social assessments.3
- Companies call for a reflection on new innovative approaches to value-based pricing, recognising the need for a longer-term view on economic and health benefits. A consideration is the “relative efficacy assessment”, which would have time benefits and provide the European Medicines Agency with a guidance for reimbursement.4
- The debate also needs to be inclusive of its core: the patients. Patients who are empowered and supported can make a difference for the sustainability of healthcare systems.5 A number of initiatives and organisations are active in this field and seek to connect the dots.
As representatives of the European citizens, MEPs have been calling on greater transparency to bridge the gap between the EU and the national level by leveraging their constituencies.
1 Pharmaceutical Industry in Figures, Key data 2014, http://www.efpia.eu/uploads/Figures_2014_Final.pdf
2 EURODIS (European Organisation for Rare Diseases) and EPF (European Patients’ Forum) Call on payers, http://www.eurordis.org/sites/default/files/call-on-payers.pdf
3Belgium makes proposals on access to medicines, 3 June 2015 http://europolitics.info/health-consumers/belgium-makes-proposals-access-medicines
4 The EMA at 20: A quality model that deserves to be replicated, 12 March 2015 http://www.efpia.eu/uploads/Modules/Mediaroom/efpia-article-ema-20th-final.pdf
5 European Patient Forum, Campaign "Patients Prescribe" on patient empowerment, http://www.eu-patient.eu/News/News/patients-prescibe--the-epf-campaign-on-patient-empowerment/