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Dalli outlines health vision to MEPs

European Commissioner-designate for health and consumer policy, John Dalli has said he will move forward quickly with EU pharma package

European Commissioner-designate for health and consumer policy, John Dalli has said he will move forward quickly with the EU pharma package but that the part on information to patients would have to be reassessed

He said: "The underlying theme of my work will be patients first, consumers first," during his January 14 hearing in which MEPs had the opportunity to probe the prospective EC candidates.

He added his vision would be that "European citizens live a longer and healthier life." Furthermore, a focus on prevention would be necessary to secure sustainability in the health sector.

Asked whether he intended to add changes or additions to the proposed pharma package, he said he intended to move forward quickly with the two non-controversial parts of the package (pharmacovigilance and falsified medical products) but that the third part, on information to patients, would have to be reassessed to "bring more patient perspective in the proposal."

When questioned on how to strike a balance between the needs of patients and the industry, he said that he wanted to put patients first, but that this did "not exclude a strong commitment that the pharma industry remains competitive."

He said that the health perspective needed to be paramount but added that it would be possible eventually to achieve a "win-win situation." To put forward the patient's perspective he would rely on MEPs and patients' organisations, which "should be properly supported." There was a need for new ideas for funding them, he added.

On the issues of counterfeit medicines and online trade in medicines and consultations, Dalli said that counterfeits were "not only a danger to consumers, but also to innovation," and that he would "work hard to make sure that the same controls which apply to the offline world also apply to the online one."

Dalli affirmed that the issue of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare needed to move forward. He said that he would focus his efforts on this.

Dalli said he would be tough on issues like alcohol, smoking and obesity, in reply to a question about his legacy after five years. The key was to inform citizens, not impose legislation on them.


18th January 2010


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