Republic of Cyprus
Ministry of Health


Address of the Minister of Health at the inaugural meeting of the Valetta Technical Committee, in Lefkosia

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to warmly welcome you to Cyprus and to the inaugural meeting of the Valletta Technical Committee.

The subject of accessibility and affordability of innovative medicines is fraught with many obstacles and pitfalls for the payers in many EU member states and our journey to date has been a long and challenging one. Yet we have succeeded in reaching a very important milestone, which was the signing of the Valletta Declaration in May.

As a Minister of Health, my primary concern is the wellbeing of my country’s patients, just like with your Ministers. We cannot stand idly by and watch patients go without key innovative medicines due to accessibility and affordability issues, whilst these medicines are available to other patients fortunate enough to reside in member states that are preferred by the pharmaceutical industry.

That is why we raised the issue with Commissioner Andriukaitis during his visit to Cyprus in February 2016, and reinforced our position in writing in April 2016. We presented him with the case of inaccessibility and unaffordability of medicines and how the EU market, with regards to these medicines, is in fact segregated. The EU is about solidarity and equality, yet when it comes to innovative medicines, not all EU patients have access to affordable innovative medicines. The debate was built upon a vision of a market, where all patients have equal access to affordable ground-breaking innovative medicines. The rest is history.

My colleagues and I are hopeful that we may eventually reach a point, where we can proudly say that our patients are not disadvantaged by the country where they reside and that all EU patients have equal access to affordable innovative medicines.

As your country’s experts in the field, we anticipate that a lasting collaboration between our member states will be established, and the signing of the Valletta Declaration at the Ministerial Meeting in Malta is the birth of this collaboration. We hope that by joining forces, we make it clear to the pharmaceutical industry that we will work together to eliminate this unfair phenomenon of a segregated EU market.

We anticipate that you will successfully explore and develop ways and to collaboratively identify best practices in the field, to share information between each other and to engage in horizon scanning of innovative medicines. Through this work, we hope that all of our member states can jointly present the pharmaceutical industry with a market that has significantly enhanced negotiating power, a very attractive market of 154 million and not individual markets of half a million, or ten or 20 million. A joint market with the invaluable involvement of two large markets, Italy and Spain, participate in this initiative giving this collaboration even more momentum. This will be a solid collaborative market that benefits from the collective activities and expertise of all involved member states that builds upon the successes and avoids the problems seen in the individual markets.

Each member state has its own systems and practices, its own experiences and successes. Together you can share your collective knowledge and develop ground-breaking approaches that will build upon the wealth of expertise that you have as a group that will prove to be a force to be reckoned with. Your efforts will open new horizons for the EU pharmaceutical market and I am confident that once the win-win benefits are evident from your work, other member states will join the initiative to secure affordable access to ground-breaking medicines for our patients, through joint price negotiation and joint procurements or any other means by which you, as the experts, see fit. Our ultimate goal is to secure innovative medicines that are affordable for our patients and that will ensure the sustainability of our health systems and we will not accept to be at the mercy of the pharmaceutical industry.

I am delighted that you are all here and I am confident that this inaugural meeting of the Valletta Technical Committee will be an important and historical leap forward in this matter.

I wish you all a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable stay in Cyprus.

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