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October 21, 2012

EU parliament to vote on removal of pharmaceutical trade barriers between EU and Israel

The European Parliament will this week vote on a new accord seeking to remove trade barriers between Israel and European Union (EU) for industrial products, including pharmaceuticals.

By Heidi Vella

Medicines

The European Parliament will this week vote on a new accord seeking to remove trade barriers between Israel and European Union (EU) for industrial products, including pharmaceuticals.

The vote, the Protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products, will take place on 23 October.

If passed, it will provide EU patients with access to innovative, life-saving drugs at lower cost, while boosting EU pharmaceutical exports to Israel.

The agreement would also enable EU drug developers to purchase active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from Israeli companies with no additional testing in Europe required. .

However, European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) wants MEPs to vote against the deal because it says it would reward Israel for its continued violations of international law.

The EU and its member states could be in contravention of their obligations under international law if they were to allow products manufactured in Israeli settlements in Palestine to be traded in European markets.

However, London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis is in favour of the deal. Writing in The Jewish Chronicle, she said; "EU member countries are facing rising healthcare costs. Factors such as the over-prescription of drugs and an ageing population make it essential to seek savings. Israel, despite its small size, is at the forefront of major medical innovations.

"The EU is, in essence, a trade bloc. Members of the European Parliament should be supporting free trade, especially in an industry which is vital to the recovery of the EU. Political posturing should not get in the way."

According to Yannakoudakis, using Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals’ generic version of blood pressure medication Liptor could reduce the cost to the health care system by 92%

Teva also makes Copaxone, the world’s top selling treatment for multiple sclerosis, and a generic version of Actos, a drug that improves blood sugar control in adults.

The outcome of the vote will be announced later in the week.

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