Involve quality and safety in the discussion about medicines

The Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) believes that the discussion about expensive medicines should not just focus on costs. Quality and safety for patients are aspects which have not received sufficient attention and which are essential for people's confidence in medicines. The MEB fully understands the public indignation at expensive medicines now and in the future. It also understands that the cheaper pharmacist's preparations may appear to be a solution to this problem.

The MEB is concerned as to whether these kinds of pharmacist's preparations offer patients the same constant quality as is currently the case based on medicines made by certified manufacturers using an approved production process. Certainly in the case of expensive medicines, which often consist of very complex protein compounds, the MEB cannot help but wonder whether it is indeed feasible to come up with a pharmacist's preparation that offers the same level of quality, efficacy and safety.

At the moment the Netherlands has a medicines regulatory system in which patients can rely on their medicines. The MEB assesses medicines and determines whether they are allowed to be marketed. Every authorised medicine in the Netherlands is assessed in terms of efficacy, safety and constant quality. This is preceded by numerous tests. Even after authorisation, medicines are still monitored closely so that measures can be taken quickly in the event of any new risks.

"The discussion must be extended beyond costs alone and a solution for expensive medicines must not have a detrimental effect on quality and safety for patients", explains MEB chairman Ton de Boer. He discusses this issue in the NRC newspaper.

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