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MEPs want to make medicines more affordable – but budget hawks show no claws for big pharma

News item

Thursday 2 Mar 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed today’s resolution on better access to medicines from the European Parliament, while regretting the watering down of its proposals by conservatives including Fine Gael.

Speaking after the vote at the plenary session held today in Brussels, Ms. Childers – who worked on the text as a member of the Public Health Committee in parliament – said:

“There is no shortage of good ideas to make expenditure on medication and healthcare more rational, but big pharma hasn’t had to swallow any of the bitter pills conservatives have been handing out like poisoned candy to our citizens.

“Our proposals, part of which reflect work done at UN level, had already been diluted by the right at committee stage

“A majority of conservative colleagues opposed my proposals to safeguard clinical trial and pharmacovigilance data from trade secrets rules in international trade.

“Likewise, they also shot down my call to keep governments pricing and reimbursement prerogatives out of international trade negotiations.

“Today, Fine Gael helped to push and secure the sugar-coating of our references to dubious patent claims by pharma companies which keep reinventing the wheel to stretch their monopolies on old medicines.

“If we keep relying on a model based on big pharma’s milking of patents for shareholders’ profits, we will see a worsening trend of stunted and skewed innovation, at prohibitive costs that are breaking the back of public healthcare provision.

“Transparency in research data is lacking, including on the true extent of expenditure on research and development.

“If we fail to pool knowledge across networks of bodies whose primary purpose is not for profit, we will be condemning less profitable patients to chronic lack of proper care.

“Years of austerity budgets, coupled with increasing prices of pharmaceutical products, have conspired to deny many of our citizens of medical products they require for essential health needs.

“For some, this comes in the form of a choice Europeans should not have to contemplate, between spending their income on medication or other essentials of life.”