With final legislation still to be negotiated, EU member states and the European Parliament must remain vigilant that the provisions supporting access to medicines remain
26 April 2023 – In what will be the biggest overhaul in 20 years, the European Commission (EC) today published its proposal to revise the European Union’s (EU) general pharmaceutical legislation, including provisions improving access to medicines. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) appreciates the EC proposal’s positive, precedent-setting bids to boost transparency by obliging pharmaceutical corporations to open the books on all direct public funding received for the research and development of medicines, and to improve the possibility to effectively grant compulsory licenses on medicines in the EU. However, MSF reiterates opposition to the introduction of transferable exclusivity vouchers (TEVs) for the development of antimicrobials, as they would delay generic drug production that could bring prices down to more affordable levels for people and healthcare systems.
Today’s proposal stems from the EC’s 2020 pharmaceutical strategy for Europe that came in response to concerns raised by EU member states in 2016 over the bloc’s access to affordable medicines. MSF provided recommendations on and a response to the EC’s 2020 pharmaceutical strategy for Europe.
Dimitri Eynikel, EU Policy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign:
“The European Commission’s proposal to revise the EU’s pharma legislation is the first we’ve seen in 20 years and, with some tweaks, could set a positive precedent towards enshrining access to medicines provisions in law.
“We applaud the proposal’s bid for greater transparency: obliging companies to open their books on all direct public funding received for the research and development of medicines is a critical step to ensure that medicines are priced appropriately and affordably for the people who need them.
“In addition, plans for granting more effective compulsory licenses by suspending data and market exclusivity would be historic, and should encourage other countries and regions to adopt similar measures to secure the availability of affordable medicines.
“However, we again strongly warn against introducing transferable exclusivity vouchers for the development of antimicrobials, as this could prolong pharmaceutical monopolies, undermine generic competition, and severely slow down people’s access to new and affordable medicines.
“We urge EU member states and the European Parliament to not forsake this opportunity to legally safeguard public health interests and remain vigilant up until this new proposal is adopted as legislation: there must be no watering down of the provisions on transparency and compulsory licenses, and if access to affordable medicines in the EU is a priority, any inclusion of transferable exclusivity vouchers should be seriously challenged.”