This week in Brussels, the Lithuanian Minister of Health, Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, and the EU's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI Committee) met to exchange views on the health policy achievements so far this year.
Mr. Andriukaitis spoke about the priority policy of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU: creating responsive health systems. The focus on health systems is set to culminate in Council Conclusions on modern, responsive and sustainable health systems when Health Ministers gather in December. Discussions on the subject have already sparked much debate on the direction of health system reforms, as Member States seek to achieve cost-efficiencies whilst reducing health inequalities.
The Lithuanian Minister also touched upon clinical trials regulation. While Andriukaitis acknowledged that both Member States and the European Parliament are keen to see the clinical trials regulation adopted swiftly, he underlined patient safety as the central concern. He also took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of facilitating clinical trials in Europe in order to maintain a strong pharmaceutical sector in Europe.
And the research-based pharmaceutical industry has and continues to play a crucial role in restoring growth to the EU's economy and ensuring future stability. In 2012, it invested roughly €30 billion in research and investment and directly employs 700,000 people, with four times that many jobs generated indirectly. We are proud to have played a part in contributing to growth in the EU.
Another key Presidency milestone is yet to come however. The "Sustainable Health Forum" was also mentioned. This high-level event - organized by the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU alongside three non-governmental EU organisations; the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European Patients' Forum (EPF) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) - will be held later this month and promises to be a high point in the health policy calendar of the Lithuanian Presidency. With sustainability of health systems, inequalities and economic growth at the top of the agenda, you can be sure that we will update you with the findings.