Ensuring Universal Access is a Political Choice

In the spirit of open debate, this blog represents the views of its author and her organization, EPF. LillyPadEU aims to provide a forum to various key actors – including those within Lilly –  to share points of view on meeting the health needs of people in Europe. Our sincere thanks to Nicola for this contribution.

Today’s guest blog comes from Nicola Bedlington, Secretary General of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF)

More than ever in these tumultuous times, the EU must set the tone for public health policies and be the beacon on patient-centred healthcare reforms for Member States and local governments.

The current debate on access to healthcare is a prime example of where a substantial and coordinated action from the EU institutions is needed. We welcome the strong call from the recent own-initiative report of the European Parliament on Member States and the Commission to develop measures to ensure affordable patient access to medicines. As stated in our 2016 paper on the pricing and reimbursement of innovative medicines, EPF recommends the set-up of a broad framework for fair access, including exploration of different measures such as horizon scanning, early dialogue and real-world data collection.

Affordability and availability go together; affordable medicines are of no use if they are not available to patients when they need them. We ask the Commission and Member States to identify or develop appropriate frameworks and methodologies to meaningfully incorporate patient evidence at all stages of the medicines R&D cycle and availability decisions with the involvement of patients and their representative organisations. Only a collaborative and holistic approach can bring sustainable solutions.

A big responsibility lies within the hand of the European Parliament. As the democratically elected representatives of EU citizens, MEPs have the legitimacy to hold the Commission and Member States accountable for their actions or lack thereof in the field of public health.

This is the reason why EPF is proud to count on 5 high-profile MEPs to champion its newest campaign on Universal Health Coverage for All. MEPs Miriam Dalli (S&D, Malta), Kateřina KONEČNÁ (GUE/NGL, Czech Republic), Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria), Sirpa Pietikäainen (EPP, Finland) and Paul Rübig (EPP, Austria) have all accepted to be the public figures of our campaign, calling for more EU co-operation in the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on health. From our perspective, the specific SDG health goal is essential to fulfil other health and wellbeing objectives such as reducing premature mortality from communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The 5 champion MEPs will ensure that the European Parliament gives this wake-up call to the EU and the Member States, who have committed to implement the agenda on sustainable development.

The current situation is untenable from a patient perspective and unsustainable for health systems. Patients are facing unacceptable barriers to healthcare services, resulting in aggravated health conditions and financial situations. We need transformative measures taking into account the recommendations from all relevant stakeholders.

“At the end of the day, ensuring universal access to medicines is a political choice. We urge decision-makers both at European and national levels to take positive action to show they put patients’ needs first, and that the European Union’s core values of equity and solidarity are not mere rhetoric but a real political priority” Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General.


More information: www.eu-patient.eu - info@eu-patient.eu

The European Patients’ Forum (EPF) is an umbrella organisation that works with patients’ groups in public health and health advocacy across Europe. Our 67 members represent specific chronic disease groups at EU level or are national coalitions of patients. EPF reflects the voice of an estimated 150 million patients affected by various chronic diseases throughout Europe.

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