EHA joins ESMO in calling for EU action on shortages of essential medicines

drug shortage

EHA joins ESMO in calling for EU action on shortages of essential medicines

The European Hematology Association (EHA) has endorsed and signed a collective Call to Action, prepared by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), on shortages of inexpensive, essential medicines. Such shortages have a direct impact on patient care across Europe and require collaborative action at EU level. The Call to Action was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 9, at a cross-party event titled “Shortages of Inexpensive, Essential Medicines: Calling for Tangible Political Commitments in the EU”.

The main purpose of the Call to Action is to keep the shortages issue high on the EU policy agenda. Shortages of inexpensive, essential medicines is a complex problem with multiple causes that differ widely across countries. Causes often involve quality and manufacturing issues, low profitability of inexpensive medicines, and poor reporting mechanisms. The consequences for the accessibility, quality, continuity and affordability of treatments are significant. In addition to the severe impact on patient safety, availability issues can have a major economic impact on EU healthcare systems.

With affordability and availability of medicines a key concern in hematology as well as in oncology, and recognizing that the shortages challenge cannot be addressed by any single country on its own, concerted and collaborative action by key stakeholders is essential. The joint declaration calls for an EU-level strategic approach, including the development of catalogues of shortages based on common EU definitions and data requirements. As a first crucial step, an EU-wide study is needed to map medicine shortages and their impact on public health, healthcare systems and EU economies.

For EHA, endorsement of the Call to Action is in line with its focus on access to medicines as a top advocacy priority. The need to address shortages features prominently in the EHA Position Paper “Access to treatment for patients with blood disorders”, which urges the creation of “an EU-wide information system on medicine shortages” and calls upon “national competent authorities to allow hematologists to report shortages”. Recently EHA has been engaging with important stakeholders on availability issues, such as the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) and with the HMA-EMA task force on Availability Issues.

Starting with this Call to Action – which already received support from MEPs across the political spectrum – ESMO, EHA and other professional and patient associations will be speaking with one voice to the European Commission, European Parliament and Member States in favor of continuous supply of low-cost medicines, to ensure patients have access to uninterrupted and affordable treatments.

Last Updated on Monday 15 April 2019.