Greek Health Minister calls for public interest pharma model

 

Main speaking points of the Greek Health Minister Mr. Panayotis KOUROUMPLIS at the informal EU Health Ministers’ Council in Riga, Latvia (20-21 April 2015)1

  1. The sustainability of the public health system accessible to all is a shared goal. Therefore, health expenditure should neither be demonized nor be subjected to horizontal cuts without previous consideration.

  2. Over the past years, under the guidance of the Troika, dramatic cuts have been imposed on Greece without any impact assessment. That is why; today, there is a real humanitarian crisis affecting everyone living in the country.

  3. The astronomical cost of new treatments especially for chronic conditions is certainly not viable not only for Greece but for many other EU countries too, whether they are in crisis or not.

  4. In many cases, the cost of new treatments does not reflect real medical innovation but speculation on the part of pharmaceutical companies.

  5. According to the December 2014 Council Conclusions, the market approval and pricing of new medicines should take into account their real added therapeutic value compared to existing options on the market.

  6. Furthermore, he called on member states to consider joint negotiations and procurement of medicines (for example cancer & HIV treatments). In his view, this will have considerable positive effects on the public budget as well as on European citizens’ health.

  7. This debate is timely as the European Commission is considering improvements of the current approval, pricing and reimbursement system. The guiding principle in these discussions should be the respect of the national competence and the guarantee of the integrity and independence of regulatory institutions such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA). To this end, there must be sufficient safeguards in place to make sure that the regulated i.e. major pharmaceutical companies are not in a position to determine the terms of their regulation.

  8. He called on the EU to build on the May 2010 Conclusions which acknowledged the need to dissociate/delink the price of new medicines from the cost of research & development. He reiterated that the EU can help decisively by conducting pilot projects and feasibility studies on the development of alternative models of medical innovation. In his view, this will lead to truly innovative therapies that effectively address the genuine needs of patients and are accessible by all. These studies will offer the opportunity to move away from the current model of medical innovation that favours monopolies and results in unaffordable treatments.

  9. Finally, the EU must guarantee the public return of investment in research & development of new medicines by means of strict conditionality attached to public funds going into medical R&D.

1 Translation from Greek based on speech published at http://www.kouroumplis.gr/mme/article/1207 (accessed 21 April 2015).

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