Medicines policy in Europe

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      All European institutions and policymakers maintain that accessible healthcare is a universal right. However, the policies used to fulfill this right vary from a State to another. Costs and benefits, risks and opportunities are analyzed independently and patients are not always at the center of the decision-making. In any case, innovation in this sector has direct positive consequences on the wellbeing of the society and the economy. Unfortunately, the market for these innovations in medicine is imperfect across the continent and governments are feeling the financial pressure to uphold their commitment to access more than ever before. It is under this newfound pressure that the European Union must tackle one of its most successful and complex industries: the pharmaceutical sector.

      Access is at the forefront of this debate; Access to innovative medicines for patients, access to Research and Development (R&D) details, access to market information, etc. Conventional initiatives have been taken by the EU as well as member states to accelerate the deployment of medicines. More cooperation, at an earlier time, and with more participation is the foundation of initiatives such as PRIME, STAMP, and Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). These initiatives demonstrate the power of the EU to coordinate its state-of-the-art network of private, academic, and institutional partners. However, individual nations have also spearheaded their own initiatives to strengthen their bargaining power in the market and promote transparency in the industry. The Riga Roadmap or France’s own Economic Committee for Health Products (CEPS), each a re-envisioning of the negotiations process, are strong examples of national solutions towards a fairer and human-centric market structure. Pricing restricts access to medicines; therefore these negotiations are crucial to the sustainability of the European healthcare system. Indeed, France may join the Belgium-Dutch-Luxembourg alliance to negotiate drug prices together while Germany prefers to remains aloof Secrecy of the process of negotiations is growingly criticized as pharmaceutical companies can easily negotiate discounts and rebates in certain countries and not in others creating a shift of equality in the EU. Differential pricing as a solidarity mechanism in the EU could be one of the long term key solution on those topics.