Counterfeit medicines and the impact of the recession were two key items on the agenda at the meeting of Europe’s pharmacy industry in Seville earlier this month. But perhaps top of the list was patient consultation.
EFPIA is the voice of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe including 31 national associations and 44 leading pharmaceutical companies among its membership. One of the major recent innovations has been the inclusion of patient groups at their general meetings; the EMHF and, indeed, patients across Europe were represented this month by EMHF president Professor Ian Banks, right.
The EFPIA are planning a new sort of bar code system to prevent counterfeit medicines entering the legitimate chain of production. ‘Theoretically this could guarantee total security for the pharmacist faced with ensuring the safe source of medicines,’ reported Ian. But it may not deal with the main issue: the danger of pushing people into the arms of unscrupulous web dealers.
The EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou addressed the economic situation.
‘It became very clear that the impact of the recession would not be felt equally across Europe and that the most vulnerable people would be those in the eastern states,’ said Ian. ‘Even so, even within the ‘richer’ member states there will be huge inequalities when it came to restrictions on health care.
‘The industry was left in no doubt that their medicines were totally wasted if people were either unwilling or unable to avail themselves of them. The result was a call for closer work with NGOs not least to lobby EU Parliament over the need to invest in healthcare.’
Ian warmly welcomed the presence of the NGOs at the meeting and the opportunity to further partnership and represent patient views. ‘It was a tonic to see the pharma industry listening to NGOs because so often the patient comes last. As is often the case it was the informal meetings with delegates which allowed free and frank discussion. I met and made many friends with similar outlooks to the EMHF.’