Les nouveaux médicaments antiviraux à action directe sont certes très efficaces, mais atteignent des prix inquiétants © Reuters

Transparency is a fundamental pillar for the success of the EU Vaccines Strategy

39 civil society organisations including EPHA are calling on the European Commission and EU national governments to ensure a maximum degree of transparency in the EU’s exchanges, negotiations and deals with pharmaceutical companies over COVID19 vaccines, proposing a new framework of transparency for future joint procurement negotiations.

We welcome the progress achieved so far within the EU Vaccines Strategy, the joint procurement initiative forvaccines against COVID19. It is indeed praiseworthy that the EU speaks with one voice in the negotiations with thepharmaceutical companies.

We  agree  with  Commissioner  Kyriakides  that  “transparency  creates  trust  and  trust  is  key.”[1] Transparency guarantees accountability and scrutiny, both crucial for ensuring confidence in vaccines, the public’s trust in theoverall handling of the pandemic, good governance, the safeguard of public health and the protection of patientsafety.

In addition to our list of asks put forward earlier this autumn,[2] we would like to clarify our current requests with aview to increasing transparency in the EU’s exchanges, negotiations and deals with pharmaceutical companies, and topropose a new framework of transparency for future joint procurement negotiations:

We welcome the commitment undertaken by Commissioner Kyriakides to establish a reading room to grant access toa select few Members of the European Parliament to redacted versions of the contracts signed with companies onceall negotiations are completed. To this end, the Commission needs to present a detailed timeline and explain inadvance what sort of information will be kept from Members of the European Parliament.

This positive first step can, however, by no means be considered as sufficient to ensure the transparency around theadvance purchase agreements on vaccine candidates that European citizens can expect and to which they are entitled.

We agree with Director General Sandra Gallina that reading rooms have not been “a resounding success.”[3]Previous experience points indeed to the fact that reading rooms are most relevant and helpful while thenegotiations are ongoing, not ex post. Hence, we invite the Commission to provide MEPs with secure access to thedocuments in relation to ongoing negotiations.

As regards the contracts already signed for which the negotiations are concluded, they should be accessible to any citizen based on the right of access to EU documents. If commercial aspects of the deals can only bedisclosed retroactively, confidentiality cannot preclude the timely publication of redacted versions of thecontracts which, we recognise, contain sensitive provisions that have patient safety and public health implications such as the liability-compensation provisions.

National Parliaments should have access to these contracts in their entirety as part of their right and duty toscrutinize all aspects of the EU response to the COVID19 pandemicBuilding on the success story of the EU Vaccines Strategy, the European Commission should seize the opportunityand set a positive precedent for transparency and good governance by informing the companies in advance thatany deals resulting from future joint procurement initiatives will eventually be published. Member States and theEuropean Commission should use their leverage and bargaining power in setting this as a prerequisite for futurenegotiations.This is particularly important when public health is in question and when public funds de-risk theR&D and manufacturing process, as it is currently done in the vaccines development process against COVID19.Eventual, meaningful transparency (even if its application is retroactive) will change the dynamic in thenegotiations, boost governments’ negotiating power and will dispel any mistrust and suspicion

List of Signatories

1.Access to Medicines Ireland

2.AIDES, France

3.AIM - International Association of Mutual BenefitSocieties

4.ALTER-EU

5.Altroconsumo, Italy

6.BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation

7.Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations(SOMO)

8.Consumer Association the Quality of Life-EKPIZO

9.Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

10.ECL Access to Medicines Task Force

11.European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG)

12.European Alliance for Responsible R&D andAffordable Medicines

13.European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH)

14.European Patients’ Forum (EPF)

15.European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)

16.France Assos Santé

17.Global Health Advocates, France

18.Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos (GAT)

19.KEI Europe

20. International Society of Drug Bulletins

21. La Ligue Contre le Cancer,France

22. Mario Negri Institute

23. Médicins du Monde

24. NoGracias,Spain

25. Observatoire de la transparence dans les politiquesdu médicament (OTMeds)

26. Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU),Spain

27. Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation

28. Prescrire

29. Public Eye

30. Salud Por Derecho, Spain

31. Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)

32. T1International

33. Test Aankoop/Test Achats

34. Transparency International EU

35. Transparency International Health Initiative

36.TranspariMED

37. UFC-Que Choisir (France)

38. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Europe(UAEM)

39. Wemos

Supporting Individuals

Ellen t’ Hoen, Director, Medicines Law & PolicySarah Steingrüber, Curbing Corruption

 
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