Current Affairs
European Health Ministers meet in ‘Malta to ensure better access to medicines

A group of 10 countries, including Malta, are participating in the Valletta Declaration – a new initiative that began during Malta’s European Union presidency to ensure better access to new medicines and treatments for patients.

Among the proposals on the meeting’s agenda: that European countries share more information among themselves on the purchase of new medicines and the development of new antibiotics.

For the fourth time in two years, Health Ministers and Representatives from the health sector from 10 European countries are meeting in Malta to continue to discuss the implementation of the Valletta Declaration. They are discussing an agreement for the countries to jointly purchase new drugs, including drugs for cancer patients, at more advantageous prices.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne, explained that the pharmaceutical industry is currently negotiating the prices of new drugs with individual countries. He said that this resulted in countries paying different prices for the same drugs.

“While the industry is privy all the information, we do not have the exchange of cross-country information, and so we are agreeing to provide more information to one another and to trust each other more, so that when we sit at the negotiating table we are in a stronger position with more negotiating power,” said Malta’s Health Minister.

Another initiative Dr Fearne hopes will be agreed upon concerns antibiotics.

We know that today there is a worldwide problem with new viruses that are not treatable with antibiotics and there is scope for cooperation with the industry. By going into more research venture with the industry we will be able to get more benefits when new medicines are released on the market.

Asked by Television Malta whether he was confident that an agreement would be reached on these proposals, Dr Fearne said the talks, which have been ongoing for two years, have already borne fruit because they had led to negotiations with the industry on a number of new medicines.

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