The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Valletta Declaration members turn eyes on advanced cancer treatment

Sunday, 10 March 2019, 11:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

The group of ten countries participating in the Valletta Declaration – an initiative to jointly negotiate drugs prices with pharmaceutical companies – met in Zagreb last week and discussed a technologically advanced cancer medicine, among other things.

CAR-T cell therapies are price cancer treatments that can re-engineer a patient’s own cells.

During the meeting, Italy presented its draft resolution on pharmaceutical pricing transparency, which it hopes the World Health Assembly will consider at its meeting in May.

The group selected “new medicinal products for joint work” and continued to exchange “comparable information on pricing of medicines,” according to news reports.

The Valletta Declaration was signed in Malta in a meeting held on 8 and 9 May 2017 during Malta’s Presidency of the EU.

Initially, the declaration was signed by the Ministers for Health of Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain. Subsequently it was also signed by Slovenia and Croatia

The initiative was spearheaded by Maltese Health Minister Chris Fearne and meetings in the European capitals of the signatory countries take place at regular intervals.

The main aim is to increase the bargaining power of European member states when it comes to negotiating with the giant pharmaceutical companies. Bargaining collectively puts member states in a stronger position. 

“The objective of the Valletta Declaration is for the Ministers of Health of the participating countries to collaborate to improve patients’ access to new and innovative medicines and therapies and to support the sustainability of their national health systems for the mutual benefit of all the different players, particularly the citizens of the countries concerned. This in the light of the fact that many innovative medicines coming on the market are extremely expensive,” a spokesperson for the Health Ministry explained.

To date, this collaboration covers a market of over 160 million citizens, representing 31.5 per cent of the EU population. This cooperation is open to Ministers of Health of other EU member states.

The Valletta Technical Committee (VTC) was set up as a technical body which carries out the work of the Ministers of Health that subscribe to the Valletta Declaration, and is accountable to the Ministers. 

The cooperation allows for sharing of information about medicinal products, policies, legislative proposals and procedures being adopted by the different participating countries.

This enables the countries to make more informed decisions, learn from each other, support the implementation of certain policies and allows monitoring of outcomes of policies.

The cooperation also empowers the countries to achieve synergy in different areas related to national medicines use, gives the possibility of pooling of information and supports joint monitoring of outcomes of treatment. 

Prioritised areas include medicinal products with high expenditure, active ingredients which are about to lose their exclusivity and biosimilars.

The group also does horizon scanning that is focused on products which are under evaluation through the centralised procedure. There is also scanning of products which are about to go off patent.

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