Coming together to create faster, more equitable access to medicines across Europe

A wave of new potentially curative treatments is being discovered and becoming available to patients and society, transforming healthcare - it should also cause us to transform the way we think, manage and resource healthcare while we build back better in the wake of COVID-19.

The recently released EFPIA Pipeline Review found that in 2020 alone, around 5,000 clinical trials were launched across disease areas for new treatments for unmet health needs. Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of trials has increased over the past five years. However, this innovation only matters if it reaches patients in a timely manner. We need new shared solutions to make the most of this disruption and ensure the best possible health outcomes for patients and faster, sustainable and more equitable access to innovative medicines in Europe.

Speaking today at the 3A Conference on Availability, Accessibility, Affordability of Medicines and Medical Devices for a Stronger and Resilient EU, organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU, Nathalie Moll, EFPIA Director General, said: “We very much welcome this initiative by the Portuguese Presidency to bring all stakeholders together for a first exploration of issues related to the access, availability and affordability of medicines in Europe. As an industry we have no doubt that it is only through jointly analysing and addressing barriers to the 3As that we will reach successful and sustainable solutions for today and tomorrow’s patients. This is why we strongly support the call of the EU Health Coalition to the Portuguese Presidency ahead of today’s event for the set-up of an EU Forum for Better Access to Health Innovation, a paramount stepping stone towards the achievement of the shared goal of equal access to innovation across the EU.” 

Such an EU Forum bringing together Member States, EU policy makers and healthcare system actors would need to include a critical analysis of the reasons for delays and barriers to access followed by a shared commitment to find solutions, together.

To contribute concretely to the analysis of the causes of delay, EFPIA publishes a yearly overview of the availability gap and access delays between different EU countries (WAIT indicator). The average delay between market authorisation of new medicines and patient access can vary by a factor greater than six across Europe. After investigating the root causes of unavailability and access delays, EFPIA identified 10 interrelated responsible factors. This analysis clearly concludes that only by working together is it possible to address the unavailability of medicines in Europe.

To contribute proactively on the discussion around possible solutions, in 2020 EFPIA shared an overview of which New Pricing and Payment Methods are being used across Europe as opportunities to accelerate patient access, allowing payers to manage evidential uncertainty, spread the upfront cost and thus alleviate financial pressure on healthcare budgets, whilst providing sufficient incentives for innovation.

In order to contribute concretely to the co-creation of solutions to facilitate the 3As, today building on our previous position paper on the topic, EFPIA is publishing “Addressing Healthcare Challenges: Principles on the Transparency of Evidence from Novel Pricing and Payment Models”.  We identified six common principles that should govern the transparency of evidence from novel payment schemes, to ensure this data may improve the clinical practice, advance our knowledge and understanding of a particular disease or treatment, and ultimately bring greater benefit to patients, society and healthcare systems.

The co-creation, adoption and transparency of novel pricing and payments models is just one part of EFPIA and its members’ wider pledge to help address delays and barriers to patients getting access to new treatments. By taking a more holistic and inclusive approach, agreeing on access barriers and co-creating new, flexible and collaborative solutions to ensure faster and more equitable access to medicines across Europe, together in an EU High Level Forum, we will transform the way we think, manage and resource healthcare to the benefit of patients.