Prime Minister Robert Abela has revealed that the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU has left Malta without its main legal vehicle to supply medical products to its residents, a leaked letter sent to the President of the European Council has revealed.
In a letter sent to Charles Michel on 17th February 2021 calling on the EU to introduce a wider medical procurement policy that protects smaller member states, Abela said:
“I am very concerned with this situation since shortages of medicinal products will undermine the effectiveness of our healthcare system. This is of even greater concern since we are currently in the middle of a health crisis.”
Abela’s letter was mostly a warning that the bloc’s medical procurement policy was failing smaller states like Malta, particularly when it came to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Access to pharmaceuticals is dependent on the financial viability of the pharmaceutical product on the market of each Member State. This has led to the creation of a long-standing structural problem, particularly for smaller Member States,” Abela said.
Abela told Michel that access to pharmaceuticals, particularly the vaccine, should not be allowed to be driven by market forces.
“A more balanced approach is required, through which the public health dimension of medicinal products is given more prominence. The industry’s current right to place products on the markets of 27 Member States of the European Union should be by empowering all 27 Member States to get access to the products placed on the EU Single Market,” Abela wrote.
The Prime Minister proposed introducing an obligation on the industry to place products into member states’ markets within a reasonable time. A transparent pricing mechanism would accompany it.
“Malta may accept price discrimination, yet this should be through a transparent and fair mechanism,” he said.
Abela also said he wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, urging her for “concrete action” on more joint procurement initiatives at EU level in the future.
“Addressing the problems that we have internally will also give us more credibility as a Union on the international stage and within multilateral fora,” Abela closed.
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