As part of the European Semester, which is intended to coordinate national economic policies, the EC has proposed health recommendations to 12 EU Member States.
Most of these recommendations focus on improving cost-effectiveness. The recommendations are as follows:
1. Austria: Ensure the sustainability of the health and long-term care systems.
2. Bulgaria: In line with the National Health Strategy and its action plan, improve access to health services, including by reducing out-of-pocket payments and addressing shortages of health professionals.
3. Cyprus: Take measures to ensure that the National Health System becomes fully functional in 2020, as planned.
4. Finland: Ensure the adoption and implementation of the administrative reform to improve cost-effectiveness and equal access to social and healthcare services.
5. Ireland: Increase the cost-effectiveness of the healthcare system.
6. Latvia: Increase the accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of the healthcare system.
7. Lithuania: Improve the performance of the healthcare system by a further shift from hospital to outpatient care, strengthening disease prevention measures, including at local level, and increasing the quality and affordability of care.
8. Malta: Ensure the sustainability of the healthcare system.
9. Portugal: Strengthen expenditure control, cost effectiveness and adequate budgeting, in particular in the health sector with a focus on the reduction of arrears in hospitals.
10. Romania: Improve access to healthcare, including through the shift to outpatient care.
11. Slovenia: Adopt and implement the healthcare and health insurance act and the planned reform of long-term care.
12. Slovakia: Implement measures to increase the cost effectiveness of the healthcare system and develop a more effective healthcare workforce strategy.
At this stage, it should be noted that these are proposals for recommendations which subsequently are not binding. Beyond the increased use of generics, focusing on the cost-effectiveness of healthcare systems can also be regarded as a way to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to continue producing low-cost medicines.
The recent developments at international, European and national level have led the industry to face quite a lot of pressure coming from both policy-makers and the civil society in relation to drug development, pricing transparency and affordability. These developments provide an opportunity to position CM&S as a tool to reduce the costs of development of treatments.
The above-mentioned recommendations will be discussed in the Council where Member States have until early July to vote on the final recommendations. Following the vote, the implementation of these recommendations will be monitored and reported on in the Commission’s country reports (Feb./March 2019) and in the Member States own National Reform Programmes (April 2019).