Étienne Schneider and Romanian health minister Sorina Pintea at the meeting in Bucharest.
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Andreea Tănase
Health minister Étienne Schneider has been discussing policy with his EU counterparts in Bucharest.
Citing the Beneluxa initiative to make new treatments and so-called orphan drugs available to patients at an affordable price, health minister Étienne Schneider has called for EU members to meet the challenge posed by significant differences in the availability and price of medicines. “Easy and fast access to medicines must be possible for all patients, especially if the medicines have a real therapeutic breakthrough,” Schneider said at an informal meeting of EU health ministers in the Romanian capital. “This is particularly true for drugs for children with rare diseases. The quality, safety and effectiveness of products must be guaranteed at all times.”
The Beneluxa initiative, which Luxembourg joined in 2015 following its launch the same year by Belgium and the Netherlands, also has Austria and Ireland as members. Its aim is to share data and policies to improve price transparency and, ideally, even get pharmaceutical companies to reduce prices.
At the Bucharest meeting Schneider also argued that member states need to better inform citizens about their rights regarding medical treatment abroad. He also met with his Belgian counterpart, Maggie De Block, to discuss issues including the shortage of general practitioners. And, as a preparation for the meeting of German-speaking health ministers in September in Switzerland, Schneider also talked with Swiss health minister Alain Berset about gene therapies, medicinal and recreational cannabis and electronic health records.