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EuropeHealth Union: medicines must be more accessible and affordable

Health Union: medicines must be more accessible and affordable

MEPs put forward proposals to make medicines more available and affordable, boost transparency on prices and promote joint EU public procurement.

The report, which constitutes Parliament’s contribution to the Commission’s plan to update EU pharmaceutical legislation in 2022, was adopted on Wednesday with 527 votes in favour, 92 against and 70 abstentions.

Key recommendations include addressing the root causes of medicines shortages, ensuring patients have access to safe, affordable and effective pharmaceutical treatments, increasing transparency on prices and public R&D funding, and strengthening EU manufacturing and supply resilience. More details on specific aspects covered in the report are available here.

During the plenary debate on Monday, MEPs said that one of the key lessons policy makers have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of close collaboration at European level combined with making national health systems more sustainable and resilient. The EU must strive to restore the independence of its pharmaceutical supply and strengthen public-private partnerships, they added. A large majority of MEPs called for an updated, solid regulatory framework that guarantees the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceutical products, fair and transparent price setting, and ensure industry meets its environmental commitments.


Rapporteur Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES) said: “The report enhances the EU’s pharmaceutical strategy in view of the next revision and update of EU pharmaceutical legislation, putting patients at the centre of health policies. We must firmly tackle unmet medical needs and foster access to medicines, while making our national healthcare systems more sustainable. At the same time, we must strengthen EU public-private partnerships for a strategically autonomous and resilient pharmaceutical industry, supported by an effective incentives system and ruled by a stable, updated and safety-centred regulatory system”.

Next steps

The Commission is expected to propose an update of EU pharmaceutical legislation towards the end of 2022.


On 25 November 2020, the Commission adopted a pharmaceutical strategy for Europe, a major initiative under the European Health Union. Its goal is to give the EU’s pharmaceutical policy a long-term vision: to ensure it is crisis-resilient and sustainable, and to reinforce the EU’s position as a global leader while ensuring access to affordable medicines for patients.

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