The EU Health Coalition calls on the Finnish Presidency, Member States and the European Commission to work together to establish a Forum for Better Access to Health Innovation
Over the last decades, Europe has made huge advances in health. Nowadays, EU citizens can expect to live up to 30 years longer than they did a century ago. Cancer death rates have fallen by 20% over the last 20 years. Being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence but rather a life-long manageable disease, allowing patients to live a normal life. At the same time, critical health challenges for Europe remain to be addressed. Ageing populations and increased prevalence of chronic diseases drive rising demand on services and threaten the sustainability of our healthcare systems.
Health inequalities still represent a crucial problem. Life expectancy at birth varies significantly between Member States; a Bulgarian citizen can expect to live almost 10 years less than a Spanish one. There are also significant inequalities in access to treatment across Member States. For example, looking at access to new medicines, the average delay between market authorisation and patient access can vary by a factor greater than seven across Europe, with patients in Northern/Western Europe accessing new products on average 100-200 days after market authorisation and patients mainly in Southern/Eastern Europe between 600-1,000 days. Also, within countries there can be significant differences in time to access.
Furthermore, access to innovative medical and digital technologies is not optimal and is lacking convergence and harmonisation across EU countries, reimbursement processes at national and regional level unfortunately cover seldomly some innovative technologies and too few digital solutions.
In the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU recognises the right of everyone to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative care of good quality. This underlines the EU commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and more specifically the one calling for universal health coverage for all and at all ages by 2030, leaving no one behind, and ending preventable deaths. There is a clear need for comprehensive initiatives that contribute to improving the situation for European citizens and patients.
The EU Health Coalition is calling for the establishment of a permanent multi-stakeholder Forum for Better Access to Health Innovation. Facilitated by the European Commission, this Forum would involve all relevant health stakeholders, including national and regional health authorities, patients and civil society, healthcare professionals, healthcare distributors, medical associations and industry. It would discuss drivers and obstacles to access innovation, including economic, budgetary, organisational and regulatory ones. In addition to innovative technologies, the Forum would also discuss healthcare services and care pathways, and how to address barriers and inefficiencies created by fragmented organisational and financial models.
The EU Health Coalition calls on the Finnish Presidency, Member States and the European Commission to work towards the setting up of such a Forum, and would welcome further dialogue on how to make this important initiative come to fruition.
The EU Health Coalition was created after the first ever EU Health Summit, which took place in November 2018, to promote a shared vision of health in Europe, based on jointly developed recommendations. The purpose is to ensure health remains high on Europe’s political agenda and bring the necessary changes to address the unprecedented challenges and opportunities driven by an ageing population and increased prevalence of chronic diseases that healthcare systems and citizens across Europe are facing. The EU Health Coalition is composed of patient organisations, EU research-oriented medical societies, industry organisations and other relevant stakeholders that share a common vision for health. More info can be found at www.euhealthsummit.eu.