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An Important Week for the Debates on Pricing and Reimbursement of Innovative Medicines

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The week of the 18th of April saw important updates on on the topic of pricing and reimbursement models for medicines. EPF published a preliminary report presenting the key concerns from patients’ perspective while Ministers of Health met in Amsterdam to discuss patients access to innovative medicines.

 

Ahead of the informal health ministers meeting of April the 18th, EPF published a preliminary statement on pricing and reimbursement of innovative medicines. Prepared by the EPF board and supported by its membership, this important document is part of our on-going contribution to EU level debates on pricing and reimbursement. The document offers a helicopter view on the central topics of these debates: pricing models, transparency, the definition of value of innovation, the involvement of patients in Health Technology Assessment, flexible life-cycle approaches and joint price negotiations.

 

Providing a patient perspective on the “value” of innovation, the statement highlights core principles that the pharmaceutical industry, national decision-makers, the EU Institutions should commit to in order to ensure equitable access to treatment based on need, not means, while supporting the long-term sustainability of our health systems.

This statement will be subject to further review with our members, also reflecting current debates, and a further consensus document will be released by the end of June 2016.

On the very same day, Ministers of Health met in Amsterdam for an informal meeting under the auspices of the Netherlands Presidency of the European Union. Head of health portfolios discussed the draft text of the Presidency on patients’ access to innovative medicines and avenues towards more voluntary cooperation among countries in pricing and reimbursement.

The proposal from the Dutch minister was said to have been positively received by her counterparts. Some countries, initially refractory to the idea of sharing information were open to discussions. The draft suggests that EU member states should be allowed to work together on a voluntary basis, without sharing any confidential or contract-related information. As it was a closed debate, one can only listen to whispers, but sources say there are reasons to be optimistic for the next meeting in June, where conclusions are expected. We will keep you updated on the outcome of the June meeting.

In the framework of our work on pricing and reimbursement, Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General participated in a panel meeting at the European Parliament in March, discussing transparency in price negotiations and its impact on patients’ access and the sustainability of our healthcare systems.

Panellists from various horizons (payers, pharma industry, policy-makers), agreed the current model needs improvement and acknowledge the biggest challenge is to find the right balance between more transparency and protection of commercially confidential information.

These are just a few examples of how vivid the debate on pricing and reimbursement is for the moment in Brussels. As the major platform representing patients with chronic conditions at the EU level, it is EPF’s duty to speak with one voice its balanced and evidence-based position.

The European Patients’ Forum’s vision is that all patients with chronic and/or lifelong conditions in the EU have access to high quality, patient-centred equitable health and social care. Timely access to accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment not only improves patient health and well-being but can also offset significant costs to the health and social systems as a result of avoidable exacerbation of a health conditions.

Marco Greco, EPF President said on the publication of our statement “There is an urgent need to identify effective and concrete actions and collaboration at EU level to close the current gap on health inequalities, to enhance access to high-quality, affordable treatments – I think we all recognise the current situation is unacceptable and untenable. Solutions must be found without delay”.

 

Contact: Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General.