Last November I was very pleased to host an exhibition and seminar in Strasbourg which brought together progressive and green MEPs, members of national parliaments and EU officials, to hear from, and exchange views with, and academic and NGO experts in the field, including Doctors of the World, Health Action International and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.
This is an excerpt from my presentation at the event:
“Due to the high prices of treatments and medicines, measures to help patients are now urgently required. Lack of affordability and access to life-saving medicines is compromising the health of millions of patients in Europe, not to mention the situation beyond our continent.
Current policy is extremely unsatisfactory, to put it mildly, and we need a fundamental shift in the way we allocate resources for research and imbursement of medicine costs.
We must push for better instruments of 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.
Essential public services are under extreme strain, which makes it vital that we push as hard as we can for ethical, transparent and public interest oriented approaches to research, production, distribution and pricing of medicines.
We can see blinkered views and double standards at play in the way we govern market instruments, not to mention public services.
We push to break monopolies elsewhere – and not always to the best results from our perspective as citizens and consumers, and yet we ignore sectors that engage in very profitable and opportunistic practices.
In the parliament last year, I also took part in an initiative that brought healthcare workers who fought Ebola in Europe against a backdrop of dismantlement of infectious disease care units, which contributed directly to the contamination of our first European Ebola patient during the outbreak. There is an overwhelming sense that a vaccine should have been possible a long time ago, were our research and development efforts over the last decades oriented by public health goals over private profits.”