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Brussels, 02 June 2006

Influenza: Commissioner Kyprianou regrets failure to agree on EU anti-viral stockpile

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has expressed his regret that EU Health Ministers today failed to agree to proceed with the creation of a European strategic stockpile of anti-virals against influenza. The possibility of a stockpile had been discussed as part of the overall EU pandemic preparedness measures. It would have served as a pool of anti-virals which could have been re-distributed according to need should pandemic influenza occur in Europe. Following months of discussion with Member State health experts on the issue, the Commission today put forward a concept paper which set out the basic purpose and principles of the stockpile. The aim was not that it would substitute national stockpiles, which must continue to be compiled by every Member State, but to have it as an additional and complementary resource. Commissioner Kyprianou said "I very much regret that Member States have failed to agree with the idea of establishing an EU strategic stockpile of antivirals. The Commission has put a lot of effort into working on this idea and how it would operate in practice, and it is my view that such a stockpile could have given us reinforced defences throughout the EU, particularly in the early stages of a pandemic. Today’s debate showed there was no agreement on the development of such a measure and it means that it is even more important that Member States make every effort to build up their own anti-viral stockpiles. The responsibility now lies fully with national authorities to ensure that there are sufficient resources, at the very least for the most vulnerable, in the case of a pandemic."

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