EGlaxoSmithKline chief executive and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EPFIA) president Sir Andrew Witty made the request in a letter addressed to European leaders ahead of this week’s EU summit.
EPFIA is recommending that concessions are granted to prevent drug price discounts distorting supply and demand within crisis-hit countries, with drug reference pricing and parallel trade posing two significant threats to the industry.
"The practice of referral to other countries when setting prices for medicines results in inefficiencies and sometimes in limited supplies. Where the industry has agreed to temporary price cuts to bridge funding gaps, such as in Greece or Portugal, other countries not subject to the same financial pressure automatically lower their prices," said Witty.
The practice of parallel trade, where low drug prices in Spain and Greece are being taken advantage of by wealthier countries where the prices are higher, has led to a growing risk of drug shortages in affected nations.
"One immediate impact is a shortage of medicines for patients in countries such as Greece and Romania. There is a genuine risk of supply disruption in several countries," added Witty.
As well as an exclusion of debt-ridden countries from reference pricing programmes, EFPIA is requesting a temporary ban on the re-export of medicines to secure drug supplies.
"These measures would deliver tangible relief and give a very important signal about Europe’s support for pharmaceutical innovation, while ensuring fair patient access to innovative medicines," said Witty.
Greece’s healthcare system is teetering on the brink, impacted by various unpaid bills and a failure to bring its spending within required levels. Whereas some multinational companies are continuing to persevere with difficult markets such as Greece, others, such as Roche and Novo Nordisk, have begun protecting their interests by demanding cash on delivery in some cases.
Image: EFPIA president Sir Andrew Witty has recommended a number of concessions to help secure drug supplies in failing European nations. Image courtesy of: EFPIA.