The struggle for transparency in times of COVID-19:
Challenges for pharmaceutical advocacy in Europe
Lecture delivered by Yannis Natsis
Policy Manager for Universal Access and Affordable Medicines, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Management Board member, European Medicines Agency (EMA)
Given the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented mobilisation of governments' resources, one could have imagined that the business as usual way of dealing with the pharmaceutical industries would not have been blindly followed.
The onset of the public health emergency offered a glimmer of hope for permanent positive change in the pharmaceutical business model, rather than confrontation with the sector. Transparency seemed to be one of the most promising areas, especially given the positive signs to this end, in recent years in Europe.
Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, these hopes have been somewhat dashed. We are now moving backwards.
As policy-makers turn to the pharmaceutical manufacturers for help, a "no questions asked" approach seems to be prevailing, shrouded in confidential deals with companies.
Governments appear to be unwilling to use their leverage and are missing their chance to reform the pharmaceutical sector. With this lecture, we look at the watershed moments, the winners, losers and the prospects in the access to pharmaceutical policy discussions in Brussels and beyond.