Brussels, 2nd October 2008
Pharmaceutical Forum concluded
The final report of the Pharmaceutical Forum was
presented today in Brussels setting out principles and recommendations on three
key challenges in the pharmaceutical landscape. Firstly, how to improve
information on diseases and treatments, secondly, how to compare medicines and
identify the most effective ones and thirdly how to balance access and reward
for innovation within limited healthcare budgets. The Pharmaceutical Forum was
co-chaired by Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission,
and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. This meeting marks the end of a 3-year
mandate. The Forum brought together Member States and stakeholders, including
patient organisations, health professionals, industry and insurers. The final
report comprises a set of principles and recommendations to increase cooperation
in three key areas.
Vice President Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy
said: "The Forum's recommendations can lead to important savings and permit a
better reward for pharmaceutical innovation. I call upon industry and national
authorities to help implementing these recommendations to the benefit of the
patients and health care budget."
Commissioner Vassiliou, responsible for
health policy, said: "Patients deserve prompt and equal access to the best
medicinal products available, and EU cooperation on the relative effectiveness
of drugs will help achieve that goal. I also welcome the concrete
recommendations on information to patients on diseases and treatments as a major
contribution to EU public health promotion policy. "
Information to patients on diseases and treatments
The Forum has adopted recommendations to enhance access to and quality of
information, such as:
- Enhance quality of information: Core quality principles for the
development of information to patients will enhance the quality of information
by providing a clear and defined framework and also identify poor quality
information. The Forum invites all health actors to refer to the agreed
principles. The ban on advertising of prescription medicines should
- Increase accessibility: More information to citizens in effective
communication formats should be provided (electronic and non-electronic means),
taking account of local traditions, healthcare systems and languages.
- Generation of information by making the best use of all actors: The
Forum recommends Member States, the Commission and health actors to consider new
collaborations in the field of information to patients. Such collaborations
should respect the minimum ethical requirements: transparency,
disclosure of financial and other support as well as definition of
Member States, payers and patients face the common challenge of containing
health care budgets, including pharmaceutical costs, while promoting and
sustaining innovation properly. They therefore need to recognize the value of
identifying the most effective medicines. The group reached agreement on:
- Working definitions and good practice principles for Relative
Effectiveness Assessment. These could serve as a basis for voluntary
collaboration at EU level. A checklist to use these principles could
provide a basis for self assessment at national level.
- A stocktaking exercise on the existing methods.
- A common analysis of existing technical and legal barriers to the
development of relevant data.
Final pricing and reimbursement decisions are usually required before
patients can access new health solutions and innovative companies can obtain
reward for their research. Although pricing and reimbursement decisions are made
by individual Member States, they share the concern on balancing access and
reward with limited resources. Concrete recommendations promote:
- Optimal use of resources: A toolbox of knowledge should help
to use limited resources optimally. The Group also discussed specific mechanisms
like risk-sharing/conditional pricing and tendering and adopted
Guiding Principles to help national authorities finding a balance
between expenditure, access and innovation.
- Access to medicines: The work focused on specific access problems
related to small markets and to orphan medicines.
- Reward of innovation: The expected value of innovation and potential
reward mechanisms for innovative medicines have been analyzed in order to better
match public health needs and long-term investments in R&D.
Member States and stakeholders are invited to implement the recommendations
of the Forum. The Commission will provide support to the strengthening of the
cooperation tools. All background documents related to the work of the
Pharmaceutical Forum are available at: