by the Dutch Presidency of the European Union is welcomed by the
Medicines in Europe Forum, given the enormous gap between the drug
market and public health requirements in Europe and the rest of
the world, especially poor countries.
in Europe Forum points out, however, that development of new drugs
is not the chief priority among possible measures designed to tangibly
improve the health of European citizens. The leading priorities
are the following:
large-scale primary prevention, notably based on nutritional
and environmental measures, as recommended by the World Health Organization
at the 57th World Health Assembly in 2004;
better prevention of errors linked to the use of existing
drugs, notably through better packaging;
better prevention of adverse effects of existing drugs, through
more effective and transparent pharmacovigilance.
drug development, the Medicines in Europe Forum identifies the following
relevant comparative pre-marketing evaluation, in order to
avoid the release of drugs with unknown added therapeutic value,
which may prove to be more harmful than existing products;
research aimed at palliating for current inadequacies in
the following areas: useful older drugs that are considered no longer
profitable by drug companies; drug utilization by patients; comparisons
with non drug treatments; drugs for health disorders whose severity
sometimes serves as a pretext for inadequate pre-marketing assessment
(cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, viral infections,
some rheumatic diseases and related pain); drugs for groups of patients
at special risk, particularly the elderly ;
decisions on research priorities and funding must be made
transparently vis-à-vis European citizens.
numerous pharmacovigilance scandals are shaking the foundations
of the drug market and revealing the failings of drug companies
and medicines agencies; decisive action by Member States and national
health authorities is urgently needed.
The Medicines in Europe Forum would particularly welcome an initiative
by the EU Presidency aimed at tightening rules on drug evaluation,
focusing research on the most needy patients (including patients
outside the EU), and making primary prevention a leading priority.
©Medicines in Europe Forum 18 November 2004