Generic medicines are on average 40% cheaper than branded ones. © Belga/Science 

Patients should have quicker access to cheaper "generic" medicines, according to MEPs voting on a draft law on Wednesday. The draft rules will require authorities to meet new deadlines and transparency requirements on pricing and reimbursement.

"It is unacceptable that delays in the pricing and reimbursement of medicines can sometimes reach more than 700 days. I am convinced that fair practices in our pharmaceutical market would also benefit patients and national healthcare systems", said Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, BG), who is steering the legislation through Parliament. Her report was adopted with 559 votes in favour, 54 against and 72 abstentions. She will now negotiate an agreement with EU ministers.

Time is money

MEPs propose a 60-day time limit to decide on the pricing and reimbursement of generic medicines, in order to speed up their availability and save money for patients and social security systems. Decisions concerning new medicines will have to respect the current deadline of 180 days.

According to the European Commission, generic products are on average 40% cheaper than the original branded medicines, once they have been available for two years. An enquiry showed that companies use various means to extend the period when they can market their medicines exclusively, without competition from generics.

Publishing information

Authorities in member states should disclose their experts' and members' names and declarations of interests in order to ensure the transparency and the integrity of their decision-making process, Parliament says. They should also be required to publish the list of the medicinal products covered by their public health insurance system and their prices, at least once a year.


Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure),  1st reading