In order to respond to the growing challenges of our society such as the increasing incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases, how can the effectiveness of medical research and innovation be incentivized to ensure that there are adequate treatment options for patients? As stated in the EU Research and Innovation Programme (Horizon 2020)

“there is an urgent need to stimulate private sector research and innovation investments and to accelerate the development of new technologies”.

Recently, under the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Employment, Social policy, Health and Consumer affairs Council meeting (Epsco), dedicated to the health policies of the European Union, adopted the following three conclusions concerning three main topics: vaccination as a fundamental and effective tool for public health; patient safety and quality of care, including the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance; innovation for the benefit of patients.

To what concern the last topic mentioned, the Council of the European Union invites Member States and the European Commission, among others, to discuss national initiatives for early patient access to innovative medicines, the possibility of increased information-sharing and cooperation in relation to compassionate use, so to maximize the opportunities for patients across the EU to be cured with innovative medicines, as well as to further enhance joint work on HTA.

All these topics were discussed during the informal meeting of the 28 European Health Ministers held on 22nd and 23rd September in Milan (Italy), where it was affirmed that “therapeutic innovation is crucial to accelerate the development and the immediate access to innovative drugs, while paying attention to patients safety. The drugs prices surge, as in the case of the drugs for hepatitis C, put economic sustainability under strain in all countries. The need for increased cooperation, common strategies and exchange of information in order to improve, speed up and ensure European patients access to innovative drugs was highlighted”.

Of course, Active Citizenship Network is interested in monitoring if these statements will be translated in concrete actions, especially if the Recommendation to Member States and European Commission with regard to the transfer of innovation in health care for the benefit of patients, for example in the field of pharmaceuticals will be respected. This is fundamental as we are talking about strategic issues for the sustainability and equity of healthcare systems and citizens’ health.

To remain vigilant on this issue, Active Citizenship Network worked on a patient declaration to be addressed to National Governments. The declaration will be presented during the 9th annual European Patients' Rights conference, that will be held in the European Parliament.

The appointment will deal with topics concerning Economic sustainability related to chronic disease, therapeutic innovation and attention to patients.

The objective of the declaration is to raise awareness about the importance of incentivizing medical research and innovation that addresses unmet patient needs and to show that there is support among patient organizations. For this reason we invite you to subscribe it.

Mariano Votta, Director Active Citizenship Network

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