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Improving health equality across Europe

Brussels conference brings together industry and EC to address variability of care provision across Member States
Addressing health inequalities across Europe is a key challenge for improving patient care. There is wide variability between Member States in the speed with which innovative medicines become available to patients and then further variability in uptake of medicines between countries and between disease areas.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), speaking at the '21st Century Healthcare for Europe' conference in Brussels today (December 3) said that the pharmaceutical industry and policy makers needed to work together so that all patients would be able to receive the right treatments.

Speaking alongside John Dalli, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Witty recognised the challenges facing governments during the current financial situation and argued for a partnership approach. "Valuable innovation transforms lives. Health for all must be achieved collaboratively at local, national and European level." He suggested that a spirit of 'all for health' should be the key enabler. "The more institutions work together in a trusting environment, the more likely the right approaches can be developed," he went on.

Mr Witty recognised the responsibilities of industry. "Industry must deliver new medicines and vaccines that address unmet patient need and have demonstrable value. This means getting R&D right – reversing the decline in productivity, improving success rates for regulatory approval, and delivering medicines that add more than incrementally to a physician's capabilities. The pharmaceutical industry is hugely innovative. If governments work to support innovation, the industry will deliver the next era of revolutionary medicine.

"We must create the right policy and regulatory framework in Europe," he continued. "This requires effective prevention and wellness programmes. We must shift focus from cost to value, and set a strategic agenda that addresses unmet need, outlines clear disease priorities and allows shared understandings of value.

"Ultimately, this is about improving the lives of citizens and patients; putting patients at the heart of decision-making. They should be empowered to make informed choices about access, allocation of funding and assessments of value.

"In this challenging climate, it is vital to achieve the best results for patients across the European Union, for public budgets and for industry. This requires equilibrium between the needs of different players, with patients put first. The industry is ready to play its part. We look to Member States and others to do likewise," he concluded.

3rd December 2010

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