Consumers need greater access to medicines, says EU Parliament

BEUC NEWS - 02.03.2017

It isn’t only in developing countries that citizens find it difficult to get access to medicines. Increasingly Europeans are having to fork out huge amounts of money to pay for medicines, for which there are more and more shortages. Our members have been sounding the alarm for years, including OCU in Spain, Test-Achats in Belgium, DECO in Portugal or Altroconsumo in Italy.


The good news is that the European Parliament has just heeded our call and adopted a report[1] calling for consumers to get the medicines they need. The report specifically urges the following changes:

  • To prevent shortages, the Commission and Member States should investigate and punish companies for unfair practices which limit the availability of medicines.
  • To ensure fairer prices for consumers, Member States should team up to negotiate lower prices from pharma companies.
  • Consumers should not pay for their medicines twice; first when public money has funded drug research and then when consumers purchase medicines at the counter.
  • Public-funded research & development should focus first on patients’ unmet needs, such as vaccines and antibiotics.
  • Intellectual property is necessary to boost industry innovation but should not hinder consumers’ access to cheaper medicines. This is especially true for rare diseases which require expensive treatments.
  • Fast-track approvals should be limited to those treatments for which there are no alternatives.

The ball is now in the court of the EU Commission and Member States. The 28 Health ministers already called for such changes in June 2016.


More info:

Our member Test-Achats petition to ask for fairer drug prices in Belgium
Guest blog ‘Lisa’s story and the price of anti-cancer drugs’ by our member Altroconsumo
BEUC’s dedicated page on access to medicines.


[1] The ‘Report on EU options for improving access to medicines’ was initiated by Spanish MEP Soledad Cabezon Ruiz. It was adopted by 568 votes in favour, 30 votes against and 52 abstentions.