|The new European legislative framework, published
on 30 April 2004, determines the level of guarantees offered to EU
citizens on marketing authorisation, risk management, and information
For more than
two years the pharmaceutical majors and their lobbyists took it
for granted that they could obtain made-to-measure legislation supporting
their own narrow financial interests, with scant regard for public
health or for the economic survival of national health care systems.
What they failed
to realise was that European citizens from all quarters, including
La revue Prescrire, its subscribers, the "Association Mieux
Prescrire" and the diverse member organisations of the Medicines
in Europe Forum would come together to scrutinise the draft texts,
explain the stakes, sound the alarm, make counter-proposals, meet
with European deputies, and lobby ministers.
What we achieved
together was a major change of perspective: in the end, European
legislators endorsed the view that medicines are not just another
consumer good. The drafts underwent major improvements, not least
ensuring greater transparency on the part of medicines agencies.
But we must
not drop our guard: patients, health professionals, consumers, health
insurers and concerned politicians still have to ensure that the
"competent authorities" fulfil their new obligations and
make the pharmaceutical industry respect the legal framework that
European society has chosen for it.
©La revue Prescrire 1 July 2004