Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne calls for EU action to increase price transparency of medicines consequently leading to improved access of innovative drugs to patients across the European Union.
Mr Fearne was speaking during the Politico Healthcare Summit which was held in Amsterdam on the future of healthcare in Europe. The meeting was attended by representatives of the pharmaceutical industry across Europe, patients’ associations, the European Commission, and other stakeholders.
The importance of price transparency stems from the prevailing current situation whereby new innovative drugs are coming onto the market at prohibitive prices and may consequently undermine the sustainability of the health systems of many countries in the developed world. Countries are therefore experiencing difficulty in procuring some of these medicines and patients are ending up suffering the consequences of this situation.
The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the work that is currently being undertaken by the Valletta Group, which was set up during the Maltese Presidency of the Council in May 2017 and consists of ten EU member states that are cooperating on price transparency and on other related issues intending to make medicines more accessible.
Mr Fearne also remarked that the Valletta Group may explore collaboration with another group, the BENELUXA, (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, and Ireland) on horizon scanning. This facilitates better planning and programming as horizon scanning provides information on medicinal products which are in development stage and which are likely to be placed on the market in the following years.
Additionally, in the coming months Malta will be working with the incoming Presidencies of the Council of the EU to prioritise the issues of price transparency and anti-microbial resistance on their respective Presidency agenda.
In the discussion Mr Fearne also addressed the question of incentives that could be offered to pharmaceutical companies noting that such incentives should be linked to unmet needs and access.