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Meeting the needs of patients
Hospital pharmacists across the world are working every day for their patients to ensure that they receive the medication they need to improve their health and to prevent and cure diseases. However, sometimes the medicine that is needed for an individual patient is not accessible. Growing healthcare expenditure has become a problem for many European countries. Innovative drugs, in particular, place an additional strain on already tight hospital budgets. Patients are directly affected and increasingly faced with avoidable accessibility and affordability issues. Besides the constraints faced by public health budgets, there are other barriers to treatment access. These include the growing problem of medicine shortages,1 delayed market access to new treatments in some European regions2 or increased out-of-pocket costs for patients.3
Hospital pharmacists have a direct stake in the efficient functioning of the medicines supply chain and the operation of medicines reimbursement systems that enable patients in hospitals to benefit from sustainable and equitable access to the medicines they require. To ensure that patients’ needs are met, this position paper from the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) on access to medicines explores the barriers to treatment and possible enablers that provide patients with timely access to safe, effective and affordable medicines (figure 1).
Barriers to treatment access
Since the global financial crisis in 2008, public healthcare expenditure has come under greater scrutiny. This trend has slowly started to reverse again with growth rates for healthcare spending increasing.4 Although the pricing and reimbursement of medicines is a national competence, the challenges posed by rising costs for new medicinal products have moved this topic into the limelight at the European level. In its 2016 Conclusions, the Council of the European Union (EU) highlighted the problems that innovative medicinal products present …
Collaborators Delegates of the 51st EAHP General Assembly.
Contributors This position paper was approved and adopted by the delegates of the 51st EAHP General Assembly in June 2021.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.