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On 16 September 2021, Dr Milka Sokolović, Director General of EPHA gave a speech at the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe where she emphasized the need for better access to effective, novel, high-priced medicines and how the Oslo Medicines Initiative paves the way towards rebalancing pharmaceutical systems in the face of ever-increasing prices for medicines and vaccines.

Undeniably, COVID19 illustrates and emphasizes the urgent need to further increase transparency in pharmaceuticals, and to strengthen collaboration amongst Member States. We have already seen examples of the benefits of increased transparency: for instance, the very experience of negotiating an EU-wide price for the COVID-19 vaccines creates a new dynamic for joint procurement, which by design brings about more price transparency than confidential discounts. It should be noted, however, that the push for transparency must go well beyond transparency of prices. Transparency in costs, as well as in funding to support the research and development of health products is also crucial.

Additionally, given the complexity of the pharma industry, she established three priorities when it comes to medicines’ policies:

  • firstly, timely and affordable access to safe and effective medicines;
  • secondly, meaningful, needs-driven, patient- as opposed to drug-centric innovation, by means of commensurate incentives and rewards, and
  • thirdly, a sustainable health system, a pillar of social equity.
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