Survey shows patients wait six times longer than EU neighbours for new drugs

Patients in some European countries are waiting up to six times longer for access to medicines than their neighbours, according to a survey by Europe’s pharma trade body. 

Results from the yearly Patients WAIT Indicator Survey by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and  Associations, shows a wide disparity between average time to patient access to treatment across the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. 

While the average time to patient access after approval is 504 days, it takes just 127 days for patients to get access in Germany on average. 

But across the border in Poland, patients wait an average of 823 days to access newly-approved medicines, according to the report developed with support from IQVIA. 

The figures showed a disparity in access to new medicines across the UK – in England patients waited an average of 349 days to get their medicines, compared with an average of 425 days in Scotland. 

Of the 172 drugs approved in the four year period ended in 2018, Germany had the most available with 147 on the market. 

This was well above the European average of 85, and well above the worst performer in the EU which was Lithuania, with only 21 of the drugs approved in the four-year period on its market at the time of the analysis by IQVIA in January. 

Other findings showed that in some countries, up to 30% of products are available but reimbursed with specific conditions, limiting access within the patient group outlined on the drug’s label. 

There can be also variations in speed of access within individual countries – in Scotland it took just 159 days for patients to get access to a drug after marketing authorisation, but 1,789 days for another. 

Nathalie Moll, EFPIA’s director general, noted that the organisation’s Roadmap for the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy includes the objective ensuring that patients get access to the drugs they need. 

Mike Doustdar, EFPIA board member and chair of EFPIA’s Patient Access Committee added: “These significant delays and unavailability of medicines harm patients.  

“The EFPIA/CRA analysis shows the root causes of these issues to be multi-factorial; including late start of market access assessment, duplicative evidence requirements, and national pricing and reimbursement policies.” 

The survey was accompanied with a separate analysis addressing the root causes of the disparities. 


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