The European Parliament has today endorsed new legislation designed to improve how the EU responds to serious cross-border health threats. The goal is to strengthen mechanisms for early assessment, preparedness and response planning to future serious health crises.
Under the new legislation, the European Commission will be able to set up joint procurements for the advanced purchase of medical countermeasures on behalf of the Member States in the case of a serious cross-border threat to health, such as during an influenza pandemic. Vaccines Europe believes that ensuring equitable citizens’ access to the necessary vaccines in such circumstances is fundamental and deserves coordinated action by all the relevant stakeholders.
“Vaccine manufacturers remain committed to improving Europe’s ability to respond to health threats,” said Andrea Rappagliosi, President of Vaccines Europe. “The vaccine industry has consistently been investing in preparedness activities that have contributed to strengthen rapid response to pandemic influenza for many years. Our members will continue to work with public authorities to fulfill this goal.”
Vaccines Europe members stress the importance of ensuring that joint procurement arrangements enable to maintain sustainability of vaccine supply and avoid creating concentration of demand. This is key to secure ability to respond and meet the specific needs of each Member State.
In the case of some communicable diseases the issue is not distribution and equitable access to vaccination but acceptance and coverage, as we see in the outbreaks of measles and pertussis as well as in the decrease in coverage for seasonal influenza. Therefore, Vaccines Europe supports steps forward in addressing communication gaps to the public and healthcare professionals, which should also be streamlined and coherent across borders.
The EU is now also empowered to declare a situation of health emergency. In the case that such an emergency declaration is pursuant to a pandemic influenza outbreak, coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) is essential to secure ability to serve global population public health needs (1).
(1) Vaccines Europe member companies are global vaccine suppliers with majority of their production activities based in Europe. 91% of the Europe-based production is exported worldwide, 44% of which is directed to humanitarian groups. As the Vaccines Europe members are responsible for the production of seasonal and pandemic vaccines for global supply (Northern and Southern hemisphere) within the same sites, it is essential to switch vaccine production from seasonal to pandemic influenza for all markets at the same time.
About Vaccines Europe
Vaccines Europe, formerly European Vaccine Manufacturers (EVM), is the specialised vaccines group within the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the professional association of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe. Formed in 1991, Vaccines Europe represents all the major innovative and research-based vaccine companies operating in Europe. The Vaccines Europe member companies are: Abbott Biologicals, Crucell, GSK Vaccines, MedImmune, MSD, Novartis Vaccines, Pfizer Vaccines, Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi Pasteur MSD and Takeda.