European presidency: #FairFarma calls for more transparent pharmaceutical policy
Mutual insurance companies, trade unions and NGOs have launched the #FairFarma initiative to appeal to the Belgian government for a fairer and more transparent pharmaceutical policy at the European level.
In an open letter, the partners set out eight concrete demands. They urge the government to put their proposals on the agenda during Belgium's presidency of the European Council, which begins on 1 January.
The demands focus on the affordability and availability of medicines. "We underline that the pharmaceutical sector faces a challenge in terms of international solidarity," they say. "High drug prices put pressure on the affordability of healthcare, while the ban on local production of certain patented medicines denies treatment to billions of patients."
Fair pricing model
A key demand is for drug prices to be based on a fair pricing model developed by the International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies. This model sets a reasonable price for medicines at the European level while ensuring investment and profit margins for the sector.
"If this model is applied in Belgium, the cost of some cancer treatments could be up to 18 times lower than the current price," say the initiators. "It is time to sound the alarm about the unreasonable increase in drug prices due to the pharmaceutical industry's growing hunger for profits."
#FairFarma also highlights the increasing lack of transparency in drug price negotiations. It calls for an end to confidential contracts between member states and pharmaceutical companies.
Each year, the government signs more confidential contracts with pharma companies to reimburse drugs temporarily. This increase indicates the arrival of more innovative drugs, although there is a need for more transparency.
In Belgium, around 20 per cent of the pharmaceutical budget was spent on drugs under private contracts in 2022. In 2013, this figure was only 2 per cent.
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