News / Press Releases - June 21, 2024

EUCOPE commends the Council Conclusions on the Future of the European Health Union, supporting a strong environment for pharmaceutical innovation

At the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting on 21 June, Health Ministers adopted Council Conclusions on the Future of the European Health Union. Presenting the Council’s perspective on the forthcoming EU health agenda, the Conclusions outline strategic priorities and actions to enhance health policy and industry competitiveness across Member States.

EUCOPE is pleased that health remains a focus area for Member States at EU level. We support the intention to continue efforts developing initiatives such as the EU Beating Cancer Plan combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and ensuring a cohesive approach to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Still needed, EUCOPE urges the EU Institutions to adopt a holistic Rare Disease Action Plan to better align initiatives to improve lives of people living with a rare disease.

We support the Member States’ call to ensure more equitable and timely access to medicines across the EU. This requires a holistic approach, exchanging Member States’ best practices, as well as leveraging existing legislative tools and structures. Discussions on EU access proposals should consider the specificities of medicinal products, such as orphan medicinal products (OMPs) and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMPs), and challenges for smaller developers. Collaborating with stakeholders to find effective solutions is crucial, ensuring that companies are not adversely affected in the process.

Establishing an EU Health Investment Hub could provide tailored support to Member States in accessing and using existing EU funds for national health projects. This measure could enhance the implementation of health projects and reforms, benefiting patients and healthcare systems across the EU. EUCOPE emphasises the critical importance of continued support for innovation, especially for small and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies. It is vital to continue incentivising the industry to invest in and develop new therapies, especially ensuring a strong and predictable framework as part of the ongoing revision of the General Pharmaceutical Legislation. We urge to incentivise the development of therapies in areas with no meaningful treatment options, without discouraging innovation for conditions where patients can continue to benefit from it.

We are pleased that the Member States recognise the importance of creating a robust ecosystem for EU clinical trials. Addressing the challenges posed by differing national requirements and regulations will streamline the development of medicines and advanced therapies. Harmonising the administration of clinical trials is essential for promoting high-quality, safe, and effective medicines and better integrating clinical research into the European health system.

The Council Conclusions underscore the importance of a robust healthcare ecosystem that attracts investments and promotes sustainability Europe. EUCOPE stands ready to partner with Member States to achieve our shared objectives: strengthening resilience against future health crises; promoting health equity and access to innovative medicines; improving the well-being of EU citizens. Ensuring the EU remains a global leader in pharmaceutical innovation and a thriving region for (small and mid-sized) innovative companies is essential.