Access to medicines in Europe: Delays and challenges for timely patient access

November 2021

Access to medicines in Europe

Various definitions and metrics of access to medicines exist across organisations and institutions with varying emphasis on key aspects of affordability, availability, and timely access. Despite many targeted efforts to ensure availability of medicines and expedite patient access, evidence from the literature suggests that access to innovative pharmaceuticals in Europe is still challenging across different therapeutic areas and indications. Across EU member states, significant variations in access exist due to diverse policies across regulatory settings, pricing, reimbursement and HTA systems, economic factors such as countries’ purchasing power based on GDP per capita, and system specific factors such as healthcare expenditure, pharmaceutical prices, and utilisation rates.

The objectives of this study are twofold: a) to contribute to the review, analysis, and body of information about key factors that delay or hinder access across Europe, across different stages of a medicine’s lifecycle focused on oncology and HIV/AIDS, and b) to provide recommendations that could ensure affordability and enable faster patient access and availability.

The study utilizes an analytical framework on the main policies/activities which can influence patient access across a medicine’s access lifecyle. Secondary evidence was collected through scoping reviews looking at the factors which may cause delays to patient access in Europe across each stage of the market access pathway and, where possible, and specific issues for access in oncology and HIV/AIDS.