Brussels, May 12 (efe-epa).- European Union Health Ministers gathered Tuesday to discuss the development of Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, an initiative that has scaled the agenda since the coronavirus pandemic exposed medicine supply issues within the bloc.
European health chiefs gathered in a video conference to give feedback about the program which was presented in early 2020 and is assessing pricing of medicines as well as manufacturing and imports.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put an enormous strain on European healthcare systems with some of the worst outbreaks in the world in the bloc.
“The coronavirus pandemic has showed us more than ever that we need develop a new EU pharmaceutical strategy to ensure affordability, sustainability and security of supply,” Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner responsible for Health and Food Safety, said.
“We need to establish the means to produce medicines within the EU and ensure that citizens and hospitals can have access to essential medicines at all times. We have a collective responsibility to put the patient at the centre, and I welcome today’s constructive discussion with Ministers,” the commissioner added.
The serious shortage of medicines and equipment many member states have faced is due, in large part, to the fact many products are imported from other regions and not produced internally.
In recent months the European institutions have scaled up contacts with the main producing countries, such as India, to speed up shipments.
European ministers reiterated the importance of strengthening cooperation between member states and with the EC to ensure access to medicines at affordable prices.
Guido Rasi, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency, participated in the meeting and focused on the importance of early detection of production shortages so that supply of medicines in the internal market could be guaranteed, according to an EC statement.
Kyriakides warned countries must remain vigilant and be aware that second waves of the pandemic were a possibility now that some states had started to lift social distancing measures to reopen economies and societies.