The Malta Independent 29 January 2023, Sunday
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Tackling the shortage of medicines

Josianne Cutajar MEP Sunday, 22 January 2023, 09:26 Last update: about 7 days ago

The surge of respiratory diseases in the last weeks resulted in considerable pressure on European hospitals as well as a depletion of medicine reserves including antibiotics. In light of these cicrumstances, this week I joined forces with a number of other members of the European Parliament from different political groups to put pressure on the European Commission to take urgent action on the matter.

In a letter to Commissioners Schinas, Kyriakides and Breton, we called on the Commission to take urgent measures to help member states ensure access to treatment for patients who face problems acquiring needed medicines due to shortage. We also stressed the need to work towards better coordination and to make strategic pharmaceutical production a critical priority within the EU, which would build stronger resilience in the hope that the situation does not repeat itself in the future.

During this week’s plenary we also had an exchange of views with the Council and the Commission, wherein I emphasised once again that the EU must prioritise pharmaceutical production, while encouraging innovation and entry into the market of critical medical devices. It is after all our collective duty to work hard towards ensuring that our children, our elderly and all those in need, are not deprived of adequate, timely and affordable medicine and treatment.

During the same debate, EU Health Commissioner Kyriakides committed to come forward with amendments to the EU’s pharmaceuticals legislation to include stronger obligations for the supply of medicines and earlier notifications of shortages, with the Commission proposal expected in March. She also stated that talks with companies to increase production and address the shortages are underway, a crucial aspect if we want to prevent similar future occurances and increase our autonomy as a European Union.

The role that the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, which is the EU health crisis body established during the Covid-19 pandemic, could play in this situation, is also currently being discussed. Common procurement of medicines and medical supplies on behalf of member states to address shortages is being pushed forward as one of the viable solutions to the matter.

As a Socialist representative, I am committed to continue working hard to ensure that all European citizens have access to the medical treatments they need and to ensure that the current medicine shortage, which is being faced, is addressed, not only in the short-term, but also when it comes to future potential surges. No one should be deprived of adequate, timely and affordable medicine and treatment, no matter their age or where they come from.

 

Dr Josianne Cutajar as a member of the European Parliament

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