By Yannis Natsis @ynatsis Policy Coordinator, Universal Access and Affordable Medicines, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Following the groundbreaking June 2016 Council Conclusions on medicines and the recent publication of the UN High Level Panel report on access to medicines, it is more than clear that the status quo is no longer an option as The Lancet put it.
Today, Europeans across the continent cannot afford their treatments, public health systems struggle to cope with the exorbitant prices of medicines, access restriction policies are in place even in the wealthiest of member states and decision makers increasingly question the quality of medical innovation. In other words, do we get the medicines we need? Why is the innovation model failing us? Is medicines’ affordability possible? At the same time, governments dare to break long-standing carefully fostered taboos and take a critical stance towards intellectual property (IP) related incentives and additional forms of patent protection. Furthermore, they realise they cannot address these challenges on their own and decide to join forces. Such collaboration was unthinkable only a couple of years ago.
This is certainly illustrative of the gravity of the problem. That is why; governments seek short, mid and long term solutions to the access to medicines problems they face. These are rapidly evolving into a social justice and human rights issue forcing countries to think outside the box and to gradually get away from the Stockholm Syndrome we all seem to suffer from when we think about the pharmaceutical system.
The EPHA flagship access to medicines event entitled “Healthy Innovation for all” scheduled to take place on November 29 in Brussels under the auspices of Poland will bring together key stakeholders who will engage in an open and lively discussion around the real questions and problems. We will debate how to move towards a pharmaceutical model that serves public health needs and promotes genuine innovation with healthy price tags. Given the scale and urgency of the crisis in access to medicines facing every patient, every hospital, every government and every country, no proposal should be considered taboo or off limits. It is up to policymakers, both in Europe and in the member states, to set the new rules of the game to ensure that our health is the real winner. Besides, it is undisputed that there are movements in the chessboard, it remains to be seen whether we will simply push the pieces around or change the game.
Register here and join the discussion on Twitter using #HealthyInnovation