Believing that transparency in the pricing of medicines is “fundamental” to enabling patients and stakeholders to make proper decisions about equity and value for money in health systems, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) called for greater pricing transparency. EPHA also called for the formation of a public website that provides comparative information on medicines’ procurement prices. EPHA’s calls are a response to the European Commission’s consultation on the possible revision of Directive 89/105/EEC, which concerns the transparency of the pricing and reimbursement of medicines in various member states.
“The primary concern of EPHA is examining the effect of pricing transparency on the end user, that is to say the consumer of medicines. All patients are entitled to have timely access to high-quality, efficient, safe, essential medicines. No patient should be prohibited from accessing such medicines due to costs,” explained a statement from EPHA.
EPHA believes that the consultation should examine how transparency in medicines' pricing would place National Competent Authorities in a stronger position for negotiating prices when procuring medicines. In its statement, EPHA said: “Prices are often intransparent, as seen during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, in which some Member States had had secrecy clauses written into their contracts for the procurement of the vaccine, meaning that others, lacking full information, were unable to negotiate effectively for a fair price.”
Another concern of EPHA is the timely availability of medicines. The alliance emphasizes that the time periods for pricing and reimbursement decisions laid down in the Directive should be adhered to.
“There is substantial evidence that in some [European Union] countries, pricing and reimbursement decisions are subject to unjustifiable delays, and in some countries there is an absence of effective sanctions. While we [recognize] there are obstacles to imposing sanctions through the Directive itself, the Directive can require Member States to ensure that effective remedies are available to affected parties (including patients) for breaches of the time limits,” said EPHA.
As a possible means of ensuring pricing transparency, EPHA cites a publicly accessible, regional database established by the World Health Organization that encourages the exchange of price information. “The Transparency Directive could establish such a website to provide comparative information on procurement prices for all medicines purchased by Member States. Such a database would also facilitate more rapid pricing decisions in those countries which operate external reference pricing schemes,” said EPHA.