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Remarks by Vice-President Schinas at the press conference on the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 25 november 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we are proposing a new Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe - a patient centred strategy that aims to ensure affordable, safe, quality, innovative and solutions oriented pharmaceuticals for all citizens in the EU, honouring the commitment made by President von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines and her State of the Union speech.

Today's package is yet another important building block of our Health Union: it also adds to the unprecedented work we are currently carrying out on vaccines, the new Health for All programme for the next budget and will be followed by the EU Cancer Plan early next year. Never before there has been so intense activity across all aspects of EU Health policies.

It follows the first package we adopted on the 11th of November, which focused on strengthening the existing agencies - the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - to better prepare and respond to health crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted EU's limitations relating to data availability, supply of medicines, and EU manufacturing capacities for the production of medicines.

We want to change this.

The new strategy will deliver on a new EU approach that is strong, green, fair and competitive.

With this solidly designed Strategy, we are laying the foundations for a future proof and crisis resilient pharmaceutical sector.

There are three main strengths in this Strategy:

  • The Pharmaceutical Strategy is anthropocentric. It starts from and builds on patients. We are responding concretely at what patients need which is real access to medicines at affordable prices.
  • We are striking the right balance between patients and industry needs. The proposal allows boosting the competitiveness and innovation potential of the European pharmaceutical sector.
  • Our proposal addresses one of the key lessons learned from the pandemic, which is the need to build open strategic autonomy; we should avoid seen shortages of medicines again.

Never again Europe should find itself like in the first weeks of the pandemic.

Let me say a few words on the patient-centred nature of the Strategy and then Stella could elaborate on some of the other important points.

Our aim is to deliver for patients by fulfilling unmet medical needs and ensuring accessibility and affordability of medicines.

We want to prioritise research and development and incentivise innovation including on neurodegenerative and rare diseases and cancers.

This will be achieved by prioritising research and development, breaking regulatory silos necessary for public health authorities to cooperate and incentivising innovation.

Access to medicines will be improved through supporting generic and biosimilar medicines, which are cheaper.

Equally important, ensuring affordability of medicines will be guaranteed through bolstering transparency on R&D costs and expenditure on medicines in healthcare systems, finding a consensus on costing principles and addressing aspects that impede the competitive functioning of the markets impacting on affordability.

Overall, with today's proposal, we are addressing the ongoing trends, by building a pharmaceutical sector that is more respectful of the environment and climate goals; making the most of the new technologies and, acknowledging that longer lives create further needs for medicines and long-term care.

At the same time, with this strategy we are addressing persisting weaknesses and those accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic, to be better placed in case of future health crisis.

I would like to finish by highlighting one other important element: with the adoption of this Strategy, we will be announcing the overhaul of the legislative framework around medicines, pharmaceuticals and their placing in the market and safety.

A strong pharmaceutical legislative framework is the quintessence for better healthcare for our citizens both for the typical health challenges that we face but also in cases such as the current pandemic.

This will be a long process, today it is only the beginning of a vast chantier. We shall be presenting concrete proposals and flagship initiatives in the next two years and throughout the mandate. Our ambition is to leave behind a solid, modern, EU legislative framework on Pharmaceuticals.

The EU Health Union is not a slogan. One year into the von der Leyen Commission it is becoming an emerging reality.

People want Europe present not accessory in Health policies.

We can now say with confidence that we have a set of actions that will allow us to defend that the EU needs more cooperation, more coordination and definitely more EU overall in health.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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