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Cost of medicine concern: Patients may suffer due to high prices and monopolies across EU

Press Release

Wednesday 11 Feb 2015

Speaking this afternoon in Strasbourg, in advance of a debate on the cost of medicines across Europe, Nessa Childers MEP, Dublin, said there where are widespread and growing concerns that patients may be deprived of innovative medicines due to their cost.

“We know too well about this issue in Ireland, where we pay more for medicines than most of our European counterparts. Only last week Minister Varadkar came under back bench pressure over cost of the life-saving Soliris drug.

In other European countries the high prices of new treatments for diseases such as Hepatitis C recently prompted MEPs and certain EU member states to reopen the debate on possible EU-wide measures to help patients to access affordable and innovative therapies.

‘Pharmaceutical companies need European customers, but they are able to demand such astronomical prices because they are granted virtual monopolies through patents. MEPs believe there are legal ways to remove patents when necessary and we want the Commission and EU governments to do so in the general interest. Creating monopolies through patenting is not the only way to promote medical research.’

‘We need a fundamental shift in the way we allocate resources for research and imbursement of medicine costs.  We must push pooled procurement, price and data transparency, access to scientific knowledge and greater generic competition.’

‘Especially at a time of austerity, the poor social return we get from pharmaceutical multinationals’ profit-driven approach to everything, from innovation through cost-benefit assessment to pricing, is nothing short of scandalous.’

‘The Commission and EU countries need to join together and show the will needed to demonstrate political will to put the rights of their people first and to ensure that they can provide affordable treatment to thousands of patients in Europe that deserve and need access to these new medicines.

Mário Monteiro de Sá 00-32-474 08 80 19

Bronwen Maher 087-784 1937 

Note to editor

“Can we afford our medicines? The access to medicines crunch in Europe” a conference organised by Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue and co-hosted by Nessa Childers in European Parliament on 13 November 2013.

Nessa Childers MEP was S&D Shadow Rapporteur on the revised Transparency Directive – Access to Medicines. This directive allowed Member States share information on pricing negotiated with pharma and allowed pharma more information on deals being struck between industry and member states.