The European Commission’s new pharmaceutical strategy

The European Commission (EC) has adopted its new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe, highlighting support for innovation, research and development.

“I want you to look at ways to help ensure Europe has the supply of affordable medicines to meet its needs. In doing so, you should support the European pharmaceutical industry to ensure that it remains an innovator and world leader,” said the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

The strategy was released for public consultation earlier this year and has now been finalised. It does not focus on the current pandemic, but notes that considerations are included and were informed by the appearance of the novel coronavirus globally.

The strategy focuses on four objectives:

  • Ensuring access to affordable medicines for patients, and addressing unmet medical needs (e.g. in the areas of antimicrobial resistance, rare diseases);
  • Supporting competitiveness, innovation and sustainability of the EU’s pharmaceutical industry and the development of high quality, safe, effective and greener medicines;
  • Enhancing crisis preparedness and response mechanisms, diversified and secure supply chains, address medicines shortages;
  • Ensuring a strong EU voice in the world, by promoting a high level of quality, efficacy and safety standards.

Several legislative and non-legislative actions are mapped out in the strategy. Regulation of paediatric medicines and rare disease therapies will receive an overhaul. The EC aims to have a proposal for a health emergency response authority for the EU by July 2021. The strategy also includes specific aims to boost digital infrastructure, whilst supporting research and innovation within the pharmaceutical sector.

Globally, the EC is proposing more communication between manufacturers and authorities to address global supply chain issues. Continued cooperation with other national authorities on pricing, payment and procurement policies is also on the agenda.

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