Against a background of increasing life expectancy and rapid
technological change conveying better information to patients
appears essential to provide patients with faster access to
high-quality and more appropriate healthcare. How could patients
get more reliable and high-quality information? Patient information
has many dimensions as reflected by the wide range of initiatives
at EU level. Such initiatives aim to address situations in which
there is an information gap or problems with access to the right
kind of information.
A couple of recommendations issued by the G10 Medicines Group
(May 2002) dealt with 'enhanced information' and 'patient
information leaflets'. A communication by the Commission, published
as a follow-up to the recommendations of the G10 report proposes a
number of practical steps to achieve better information to
patients. Among these, the establishment of a 'Public Private
Partnership', co-ordinated by DGs Public Health and Enterprise, for
the monitoring of the quality of existing information.
The recently concluded review of the EU's pharmaceutical
legislation also touched upon this subject. A proposal by the
Commission would have allowed industry to provide information on
prescription drugs to cure AIDS, asthma and diabetes, directly to
patients. This proposal was, however, rejected by the European
A recent communication on patient mobility underlines a need to improve the
information available to patients on treatment options available in
other Member States and the rules governing the payment for such
treatments by one's national health insurer.
In a separate communication aiming to reduce social inequalities
regarding access to high-quality healthcare, the Commission has
proposed the application of the 'open method of coordination' in this area.
The Commission adopted an action plan on eHealth in April 2004 with a view to
improving the application of information and communications
technologies across a range of functions that affect the health
sector (including Internet-based applications, electronic health
records, telemedicine, etc.).
The European Medicines' Evaluation Agency (EMEA) has recently
completed a consultation
on the draft recommendations compiled by a working group with
patients organisations. The draft recommendations extend to areas
such as the transparency and dissemination of information, product
information and pharmacovigilance. The final recommendations will
be forwarded to the Commission for consideration.