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Brussels, 29th September

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Pharmaceutical Forum: delivering better information, better access and better prices

The newly established Pharmaceutical Forum is today expected to adopt its first progress report setting out how to improve information on medicines to patients, enhance value for money and access to medicines and ensure quicker access to effective medicines through relative effectiveness policies. The European Commission has set up the Pharmaceutical Forum, co-chaired by Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner Markos Kyprianou to find practical solutions to some of the key structural and public health issues affecting the pharmaceuticals industry. The Pharmaceutical Forum brings together Member States, the pharmaceutical industry, public health and patient groups in a voluntary process, brokered by the Commission, to achieve the benefits of Europe-wide cooperation in areas which are partially governed by national law.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “Europe is no longer the pharmacy of the world. We need to look urgently at the structural issues affecting the competitively of the industry and respond to these challenges. The purpose of the Pharmaceutical Forum is to push forward to deliver concrete results by June next year.”

Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, responsible for health and consumer protection, said: “Patients in Europe do not have equal access to information on medicines. Today we have agreed to set up concrete ways to help ensure that all European patients can have access to information no matter where they live or what language they speak.”

The progress report sets out a series of proposals for further action.

1. Information to patients

The progress report sets out conclusions on ways to improve the quality of, and access to information, such as:

  • developing a model package of information for patients on diseases (using diabetes as a first example);
  • considering areas for more harmonised EU wide action on information on medicines; and
  • improving patient access to good quality health information..

2. Control of expenditure: Pricing/Reimbursement

Several factors have generated significant changes in the pricing and reimbursement mechanisms of most Member States during the last years, including rising expenditure on medicines, inequity of access to medicines, lack of early access to innovative medicines. The progress report seeks to identify, explore and exchange information and data on alternative mechanisms. With the objective of finding a balance between controlling expenditure, improving access to medicines and rewarding innovation.

3. Relative effectiveness: assessing the effectiveness of medicines in comparison with other treatment options

The progress report makes a series of recommendations on how to support Member States applying relative effectiveness systems in order to allow containment of pharmaceutical costs as well as a fair reward for innovation. Relative effectiveness assessment systems are relatively new for many Member States and rather complex. Nevertheless, the outcome of relative effectiveness assessments is promising as they will help identify the most valuable medicines, both in terms of clinical efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and will help set a fair price for these medicines.


The work of the Pharmaceutical Forum builds on that of the G10 Medicines group established in 2001[1]. In preparation for today’s meeting, three technical working groups were established: Improving information on medicines to patients, finding a balance between rewarding innovation, value for money and access to medicines in pricing & reimbursement policies, and quicker access to effective medicines through relative effectiveness policies. The next Pharmaceutical Forum is likely to be held in June 2007.

The EU pharmaceutical sector is a very robust and innovative economic sector, but it is declining in relative terms compared to its competitors. It employs about 600,000 people in Europe of whom around 100,000 are in research, makes a significant positive contribution to the Union’s trade balance (€32 billion in 2004) and makes a substantial investment in the European science base (€21 billion in 2004).
More information

It was a small high level group, with 11 representatives from Member States, industry, patients and mutual health funds, established to advise the Commission on ways to improve the competitiveness of the European-based industry in line with public health objectives. It produced a report in 2002 with a number of recommendations.

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