In a report approved last week during the plenary sitting, the European Parliament (EP) emphasized the need to revise the medication innovation system. Among other things, the report indicates that âthe prices of new medications have increased in the last few decades to become unaffordable for many European citizens and seriously threaten the sustainability of national healthcare systemsâ. The most recent case that illustrates this situation is that of the hepatitis C drug yet the report also discusses the current context of cancer care which, if the same trend continues, will end up with oncology drug prices that will make treatment impossible for many patients.
The report asks the Commission and the Council to develop measures to guarantee access to medications at affordable prices all while preventing any unacceptable impact on public healthcare budgets. The EP also recognises the scarce relationship between clinical needs and the research industry is conducting. However, it highlights the great public commitment to biomedical R+D in the European Union with programmes like Horizon 2020 and the IMI Initiative although it negatively weighs in on the lack of a social return as there is no reflection through a drop in consumer prices or in access to the data and results of the public research, which all directly affects patients.
In view of it all, the EP recommends more transparency in the pharmaceutical sector in general and urges the Commission to revise the current Directive on transparency and create a framework to prevent anti-trust practices that end in market abuse. They seek a directive that allows the dissemination of the cost of R+D as well as the part of the research financed with public funds.
Likewise, the EP recognises that the European Commission must âpromote open data in drug research when it is financed with public funds and encourage conditions such as affordable prices and non-exclusivity or co-holding of intellectual property rights for projects financed with public grants from the EU.â
Civil organisations like Salud por DerechoÂ are celebrating the approval of the document to improve access to medication. âThe report outlines not all but many of the situations that Salud por Derecho has been denouncing in recent years which pose an enormous risk for people and our healthcare systemsâ says Vanessa LÃ³pez, Director of the organisation. âWe hope this will be the first of many initiatives to tip the scale in favour of rights to healthcare and the medications that cure diseases above any industrial benefits that put their development, access and affordability at risk. We also hope the Government of Spain will echo these recommendations and that they will be assumed and transferred to pharmaceutical policy.â