Hospital pharmacists advocating for equal access for patients

By Stephanie Kohl, Policy & Advocacy Officer at the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP)  

Providing equal and timely access for all patients, including those with rare conditions and unmet needs, to all relevant medicinal therapies is one of the 2022/23 key policy priorities for the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) and its members. Supporting this endeavour is EAHP’s Position Paper on Access to Medicines 

Given that growing healthcare expenditure has become a problem for many European countries, patients are increasingly faced with avoidable accessibility and affordability issues. In its position paper, EAHP has chosen to look at the barriers to access and enablers that could help improve access. Lack of purposeful procurement practices, national pricing and reimbursement policy choices jeopardising patients’ adequate access, medicine shortages and the unavailability in certain markets that are leading to inequity between Member States are the main barriers identified by EAHP. For the provision of affordable medicines of good quality that are given in a timely manner to patients, hospital pharmacists advocate for breaking down these barriers to treatment access and call for the uptake of enablers that promote and safeguard the access of patients to both new life-saving medicines and older, essential medicines must be increased. Enablers mentioned in the Association’s position paper refer to health technology assessments (HTAs), including common reports at the EU level, collaboration and best practice sharing on pricing and reimbursement, increasing the use of prevention measures and fostering innovation and research.  

To achieve an equilibrium between the barriers and the enablers to treatment access, EAHP recommends leveraging and utilising the expertise of the hospital pharmacist in pharmacoeconomics and the assessment of drug effectiveness within value-based evaluation approaches. Additionally, the implementation of the forthcoming HTA Regulation should be used for the expansion of healthcare professional input in HTAs at both European and national level. Tools like the one developed by EURIPID should not only be applied on their own but in conjunction with other policy measures, including transparency. 

Risk assessments are key for combatting medicines shortages. Consequently, EAHP calls for more collaboration between hospital managers and hospital pharmacists to increase their uptake. Also, investments are needed to support the development of innovative proposals and the encouragement of practice-based research projects to investigate new fields of infectious disease control such as immunotherapy and optimise the cost-effectiveness of systems for surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance. In relation to the developments linked to the European Health Union aided by the implementation of the Pharmaceutical Strategy, EAHP is committed to working together with the European institutions and other stakeholders by giving a voice to access issues that otherwise might be forgotten. Securing European level action on the global health threat of medicine shortages remains key for improving patients’ access.  

Disclaimer: the opinions – including possible policy recommendations – expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EPHA. The mere appearance of the articles on the EPHA website does not mean an endorsement by EPHA. 

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