A number of hurdles related to the weakness of the European patent system prevent innovation and competition in the pharmaceutical sector and hinder timely market entry of cheap generic drugs, argues a generic medicine industry report.
The Commission has raided the offices of a number of top pharmaceutical companies to find out whether anti-competitive practices in the sector have hindered innovation and blocked the entry of cheap generics on the European market.
The EU has recently finalised its policy and legal framework for so-called biosimilars, opening the EU market for generic versions of biotechnology-derived drugs. The first such drug is about to enter the EU market.
A generic medicine is a pharmaceutical product that is no longer protected by a patent and which can be copied by other companies. It may be marketed either under its own brand or as an unbranded product. European governments are increasingly relying on generics to save on healthcare costs and have worked to create a more favourable environment for generic medicines, which are considerably less expensive than brand name drugs.
On 23 October, the European Parliament in its first reading of the pharmaceutical review proposals, said "yes" to centralised authorisation procedure of new medicines. MEPs rejected direct advertising of pharmaceutical products and supported earlier market access of generic medicines.
The European Parliament's Environment Committee opposes Commission plans to allow the pharmaceutical industry to provide information on medicines to consumers. In their first reading of three reports dealing with the EU's pharmaceutical review, the MEPs also adopted an amendment speeding up the time within which generic medicines can be brought to the market.
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