The outgoing German Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry was invited to speak in the Environment committee about the pharmacology package, one of the big issues on the parliamentary agenda for this autumn. The new package will consist of threefold legislative measures, namely on pharmacovigilance, counterfeiting of drugs and patient information.
With view to roughly 13.000 falsified drugs seized by customs authorities in France alone, the issue of counterfeiting of drugs appears to be an urgent one to be tackled. Verheugen explained that in this connection the cooperation between security agencies, market surveillance and customs authorities needs to be improved. He added that co-operation with third countries in this respect is of great importance, since most of the falsified drugs made in Europe are exported to developing countries. On the other hand it has to be ensured that there are no leakages and black sheep in the legal production and distribution chain of drugs often imported to the EU from third countries. He underlined that the Commission proposal only targets medicine which is available on prescription only. The proposal by MEP Frédérique Ries (Liberals, BE) to launch a website providing impartial information on the counter-effects and risks of legally distributed pharmaceutical products by independent bodies was very much welcomed by the Commissioner and the MEPs. To give some more figures: According to a study of the European Medicines Agency in London 5 % of all patients in British hospitals are there because of wrong treatment/medication (in 50% of these 5% lack of patient information was cited as being the cause).
All three initiatives are targeting the patient’s safety as a primary goal.
Several other issues were approached during the discussion. As a response to the public turmoil especially in Germany in a clear public reject of the newly prescribed incandescent bulbs, he declared a full endorsement of this measure by the European Commission.
Addressing the forthcoming Copenhagen summit in December 2009, there is a list of in total 258 industry areas, drafted by the European Commission, which will obtain CO2 emissions allowances; the rest of the enterprise sector is not considered as risky in this sense and will not be provided any carbon dioxide permissions.
Furthermore, Verheugen praised the development of low-carbon car industry and declared the feasibility of fully-electrical cars as a suitable solution for the future to combat climate change, even though he admitted that the cost of this technology was still too high. In addition, MEPs pointed out their concern about the elevated level of disastrous effects for the environment of the ancient car air-conditioning systems, which are reportedly 1000 times more harmful than CO2.
In the end, the set of rules on REACH was criticised for the impractical shortness of finances to properly run the European Chemicals Agency, which arose doubts concerning this system. Verheugen finally assured that the list of dangerous chemicals is updated on a regular basis and there were no attempts to avoid its enlargement.
In a general economic outlook, Verheugen explained his certitude about what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an economy to adjust to the new economic deal and reshape its operation into a new eco-efficient model, the only valid after the crisis. He expressed his conviction that the industry sector and also the society need to change their consumption paths in general, if we want to turn the low-carbon economic principles into a reality.