Patients Wade into EU Pricing Debate
Patient associations have waded vigorously into the intense debate now starting on how to update the 20-year-old European
Union regimen for pricing and reimbursement. Their intervention brings an additional dimension to the concerns voiced so far
about this review of fundamental EU rules — notably pharmaceutical companies' fears that the outcome may mean tougher assessments
of relative efficacy, or warnings from national health ministries that demands for faster decision-making are unrealistic.
"The revision of the rules is important for patients," too, says the European Patients Forum (EPF) — which represents more
than 50 diverse patient organisations, ranging from giants like Alzheimer Europe to smaller outfits such as the Malta Health
Network or the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People.
EPF has already drafted a position on the proposals that emerged from the European Commission last February, and gave its
members until the end of July to comment. It wants to be sure it is equipped to maximise patient input into the formal debates
on the new legislation that will start in the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers after the summer break.
So EPF is liaising with the Commission, key members of the European Parliament and what it loosely refers to as "other stakeholders"
to prepare the ground for influencing the debates as proposals are turned into laws.
The starting point of the draft EPF position is that "there are currently wide and unjustifiable delays in access to new medicines
across the EU." One of its targets is the inconsistency displayed by national drug pricing and reimbursement regimes in Europe,
which it blames for leading to inequalities in access to high-quality medical care
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EC Offers Aid to Former AstraZeneca Workers
The European Commission is looking to provide Sweden with €4.3 million to help 700 workers affected by AstraZeneca job cuts
to find new work. The proposal is currently awaiting approval from the European parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers.
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AstraZeneca announced plans earlier this year to axe approximately 7300 jobs worldwide. Almost 1000 of the job cuts will be
in Sweden stemming from the closure of R&D sites in Lund and Umeĺ, and the limiting of operations in Mölndal and Södertälje.
Of the 987 redundant workers, 700 who face the most difficulties in finding new jobs are being targeted for support. The estimated
total cost of the support package is around €6.6 million, €4.3 million of which will come from the European Globalisation
Adjustment Fund (EGF), which was established in 2006 with the aim of helping workers who have lost their jobs because of changing
global trade patterns or the global financial crisis.
In a statement, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, said, "The pharmaceutical
industry is currently undergoing significant changes in order to retain its competitiveness in a tough environment, and it
is therefore increasingly seeking synergies to hold down the rising costs of R&D activities."
Since the start of its operations in 2007, the EGF has received 101 applications, with more than €430 million being requested
to help around 90481 workers. Applications are being received for a growing number of sectors and an increasing number of
EU member states.