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Committee in favour of a more transparent pharmaceutical industry

European governments should oblige pharmaceutical companies to ensure “absolute transparency regarding the real costs of research and development”, particularly in relation to the public research portion, and adopt a stricter marketing authorisation policy, according to the PACE Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.

In adopting a report prepared by Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC), the members praised an industry which is “one of the key players in the health field” and at the same time a very important sector of activity in many countries. However, questions have been raised about the possible negative effects of the interaction between the pharmaceutical industry and health sector stakeholders. “Despite the considerable progress made in preventing and dealing with conflicts of interest, this is still today largely a matter of hit and miss”, they said.

The draft resolution calls on member states to place an obligation on pharmaceutical companies to declare their linked interests with all health sector players, “to make these declarations accessible to the public”, and to establish an independent authority responsible for monitoring this matter.

In spite of the increase in the number of new medicines placed on the market, there have been very few that present “a real therapeutic benefit, satisfying real health needs”, according to the text. In addition, we have seen an upsurge in the price of medicines, allegedly justified by the cost of research and development, “which nonetheless remains opaque and broadly disputed”. The exorbitant price of cancer and Hepatitis C treatments “is of particular concern”.

The committee calls on member states to prohibit any agreement between pharmaceutical companies “with the aim of delaying, for no medical justification, the marketing of generic medicines”. Governments should also “impose dissuasive penalties” for any illegal practices carried out by pharmaceutical companies, where appropriate by “imposing fines of a given percentage of their turnover”.

The report is on the agenda for the Assembly’s forthcoming autumn plenary session (Strasbourg, 28 September – 2 October).