An event of the MEP Interest Group on Equitable Access to Healthcare, was organised jointly with the Patient Access Partnership (PACT) on 28th of June, which focused on the expected policy impact of the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe in improving access to healthcare, as an investment tool for the creation of inclusive economy. The Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe gives the opportunity to push for “great”, for the support and improvement of patient access and to back-up ground-breaking innovations from all sectors, private and public, academic and entrepreneurial.
Introducing the meeting, PACT Secretary General Stanimir Hasardzhiev started with the question “Do you think that the current proposal, legislative package and initiatives are meeting the expectations of society, industry and science? Is it enough for achieving better access to healthcare for European citizens?”. This question was answered by one of the Co-chairs of the MEP IG on Access, and namely MEP Tomislav Sokol, by stating “Even though healthcare is primarily a national matter, the European Union can do a substantial amount from its position of supporting and coordinating what Member States are doing”. MEP Sokol added that the European Union can both support and coordinate the healthcare systems of Member States, even though healthcare is primarily a national matter.
The next speaker of the event was Director of Health at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Bogi Eliasen, in context of the 5As of Access (adequate, accessible, affordable, appropriate and available) stressed upon the fact that there is too much focus on innovation, and not enough on the readiness of society to actually implement the innovation, by pointing that the vast majority of health data that is being generated, is currently not used. Therefore, efforts should be made in this direction in terms of access.
MEP Andrey Kovatchev started his intervention by making an interesting comparison between Bulgaria and Belgium, in terms of access to healthcare and innovation, as he pointed out that in some instances, the access to healthcare in Bulgaria is better than the one in Belgium, due to shorter waiting periods for and in-between appointments, but in terms of innovative treatments, Belgium is further ahead.
Director General of EFPIA, Nathalie Moll, addressed the previous speakers’ points by pointing out one of the main challenges posed to patients in different countries and namely the various waiting periods, which might lead to delayed access to care and medicines. Ms Moll shared with the audience information on the annual EFPIA Patients W.A.I.T. (Waiting to Access Innovative Therapies) Indicator report, which shows insights on patients’ waiting times to medication and how the discrepancies are increasing every year.
The Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe and the technological advancements, accompanying it, are only some of the tools, which play a key role in broadening the patient access to healthcare. Solutions must be sought in multi-stakeholder environment, and through different tools and instruments. The MEP event led to many insightful and interesting discussions with the keynote speakers, who work in different fields and was a step forward in addressing the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe from a multi-stakeholder perspective.
In conclusion, Dr Hasardzhiev shared some insights on the initiative, which brings research and citizens together, with health in all policies approach, and the “PACT TO ACT” as a multi-stakeholder collaboration in #EUnite movement, in order to accelerate time to patient access to sustainable innovations.
- The Patient Access Partnership (PACT) is a patient-led multi-stakeholder network bringing together patients, the medical and public health community, industry and the European and member states policy makers and institutions, in order to develop and move forward on innovative solutions to reduce inequities in access to quality healthcare in the European Union.
- MEP Interest Group on Equitable Access to Healthcare: officially launched on 27 January 2015 the European Parliament Interest Group aims to tackle health inequalities and enhance proper access to high-quality healthcare for all patients. The main objective of the Group is to play a major role in providing a platform for discussion and concrete action, in cooperation with patients and the healthcare community. It also promotes synergies and knowledge-sharing regarding disease specific initiatives in the EP relating to access, and other thematic interest groups to ensure maximum effectiveness. The secretariat is being provided by PACT.