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Minister Harris must recognise groundbreaking EU Access to Medicines report – Boylan

2 March, 2017 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has hailed today’s passing by the European Parliament of an EU report on Access to Medicines as groundbreaking. She says she hopes it will lead to cheaper medicines for people throughout Europe, in particular those who need lifesaving medicines, as is the case with cystic fibrosis sufferers and the drug Orkambi.

MEP Boylan said:

“Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights on Health protection provides that ‘everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices’. It also provides that a high level of human health protection must be ensured in the definition and implementation of all EU policies and activities.

“This Report calls for a control of medicines prices, through mechanisms such as horizontal pricing, coordinating joint procurements between Member States, and increasing cooperation between the Member States on price-setting procedures so as to keep medicine prices as low as possible for citizens. It also stresses that transparency in relation to the cost of development and clinical trials is crucial in order to set a fair price.

“Crucially, the report also highlights the difficulties of rare diseases and says that much more needs to be done to promote relevant research and to ensure that safe and affordable medicines are available for citizens who suffer from rare diseases. Special focus is also paid to the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The report calls for actions to be taken to combat AMR through comprehensive research and development.

“Furthermore, particular criticism is levelled at pharmaceutical companies who delay the entry of low-priced generic or biosimilar medicines to the market through litigation and who also engage in anti-competitive behaviours such as excessive pricing, the abuse or misuse of patent systems, so-called ‘pay for delay’ practices, and abuse of the system for authorisation of medicines.

“It is my hope that this comprehensive and groundbreaking report will be read by Minister Simon Harris and the suggestions outlined in it taken on board. In particular, with those cystic fibrosis sufferers in need of the drug Orkambi in mind, I implore him to pay particular heed to the sections guaranteeing the upholding of Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights recognising the fundamental right of citizens to health and medical treatment and those sections calling for measures to ensure affordable patient access to medicines.” 

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