MEPs kick start their mandate with greater commitment to access to medicines

The European Parliament Working Group (EPWG) on innovation, access to medicines and poverty-related diseases held its inaugural reception for the 2014-2019 legislature on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 with numerous MEPs including Margrete Auken, Elly Schlein, Michele Rivasi in attendance.
The outgoing chair MEP David Martin (S&D) spoke about the high prices of hepatitis C treatment as well as the current neglect of pharmaceutical companies concerning research into Ebola. He also seized the opportunity to introduce his successor MEP Glenis Willmott (S&D) who has a long track record working on health issues at the EU level as a full member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee. During her speech Ms Willmott called for a cross-party effort to current health challenges and expressed her commitment to greater transparency in the pharmaceutical industry in clinical trials. MEP Judith Sargentini (Greens) formally accepted to become the Working Group’s vice-chair for the Greens Group, given her interest in vaccines and increasing health access in developing countries.
It thus seems that a sturdy foundation has been laid to build on the previous achievements of the Working Group which were made possible due to David Martin’s relentless support and efforts. These include the setting up of a strong Horizon 2020 framework that recognises the need to invest in R&D for poverty related and neglected diseases, the removal of some of the most damaging provisions from the EU-India FTA as well as two written declarations on immunisation of children and MDR TB in the European region.

The EPWG will continue working on ensuring improved access to medicines, tackling antimicrobial resistance and the inclusion of an ambitious, outcome-oriented and rights-based health goal in the post 2015 framework. Moreover, the Ebola crisis currently wreaking havoc in West Africa is a glaring reminder of the consequences of insufficient investment in health systems and global health R&D. Appeals made for cooperation between civil society and MEPs in order to build strong health systems and allow for greater access to medicines were thus very timely.

Page updated: 7 October 2014
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