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‘Medicine miles’ becoming a concern for European patients - Research shows the origin of medicines becomes more important




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The pandemic has triggered a greater interest among patients about Europe’s role in medicine manufacturing. New research reveals that seven in 10 patients now want to know where their drugs are made as the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the growing concentration of essential medicine production overseas.

The study found the vast majority (84%) of patients want their government to support pharmaceutical manufacturing investments in their region to avoid over-dependencies on countries outside of Europe.

The study questioned thousands of European patients who rely on regular medication for chronic conditions and found 7 in 10 (71%) are interested in knowing Europe remains as competitive as other regions.


The findings point to the need to rebalance the global pharmaceutical value chain to ensure every region around the world has reliable access to vital medicines.

It comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted problems with global supply chains caused by  the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients being clustered in Asia.  While Europe remains strong in producing finished medicines it has lost its leadership position in active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing in the off-patent generics sector  – especially for essential drugs like paracetamol – opening up strategic vulnerabilities.

The research by Teva Pharmaceuticals sought opinions from 3,000 patients aged over 25 from France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Croatia and the Czech Republic. All participants suffered from one or more chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and migraine – requiring regular medication.


Richard Daniell, Executive Vice President for Teva in Europe, said: “The jolt of the pandemic acts as a wake-up call that the growing imbalance of the global pharmaceutical value chain cannot continue.

Patients now really care about where their medicines are made.  In the same way that “food miles” have become a key concern among consumers in recent years, patients now want to know more about  “medicine miles” when it comes to the treatments they take.

Europe’s unhealthy over-reliance on overseas  active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing has been exposed by the closure of factories and borders. But nationalistic approaches don’t work in such a highly connected and interdependent area as modern medicine supply.  Europe must adjust its policies to new economic and technological realities, while expanding its competitiveness and geopolitical position by remaining open and attracting investments.

“Teva supports 200 million patients every day, keeping Europe’s medicine cabinet stocked, as one of the largest of suppliers to European healthcare systems.  Today we make 95% of Teva medicines in Europe, supported by our global supply line.  And we are investing close to a billion euros in manufacturing facilities across Europe.   What’s enlightening about this research is that patients are waking up to these issues and demanding change. 

“The race to the lowest-price generic has to stop and Europe’s rather inflexible and old fashioned regulatory regime should be modernized to keep Europe in the race to attract pharmaceutical investments to produce critical APIs and generic medicines.

“With the needs of patients at its heart, a new equilibrium also stands to improve Europe’s resilience as well as delivering a significant economic contribution to the region.  There is an opportunity to seize this watershed moment and build a better ecosystem in which a stronger pharmaceutical manufacturing presence in Europe can complement the rest of the global supply chain.”

The research shows that European patients consider such commitments are vital for a sustainable future.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of people think the pharmaceutical industry is strategically important for Europe as we move out of the pandemic, because it can ensure stability and reliability of medicine supplies.

Almost two-thirds (61%) think medicine manufacturing in the region is important to protect European healthcare systems, and roughly the same number (59%) see it as crucial to secure Europe’s autonomy and sovereignty over critical drugs.

The study found 85% of patients see the pharmaceutical sector as crucial to driving economic recovery as we emerge from the depths of the pandemic.

People cited jobs creation and supporting the local economy as the top benefit for promoting medicine manufacture in Europe (57%), closely followed by a desire for better access to essential drugs and reducing reliance on overseas supply (56%).

Furthermore, more than 70% of European patients want to see Europe remain as competitive as other regions and expect their government to take action to support this.

The environment was a top concern among patients with 65% demanding that their medicines be made in way that’s environmentally sustainable.

In addition, more than half (55%) of patients see the benefits of drugs manufactured in Europe linked to the potential of transport reduction-related environmental impact. And over a third (35%) of people think Europe guarantees greener production and respect for environmental regulations than overseas manufacturing.

About Teva and Its Impact in Europe

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE and TASE: TEVA) has been developing and producing medicines to improve people’s lives for 120 Years.  We are a global leader in generic and specialty medicines with a portfolio consisting of over 3,500 products in nearly every therapeutic area.

Around 200 million people around the world take a Teva medicine every day, are served by one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the pharmaceutical industry. Along with our established presence in generics, we have significant innovative research and operations supporting our growing portfolio of specialty and biopharmaceutical products. Teva operated 32 manufacturing and research and development facilities across Europe in 2020.

In Europe, Teva’s local purchases and payroll across the nine key markets supported nearly 105,000 jobs, contributed $29.5 billion (€25.8bn) to economic output, and generated $5.6bn (€4.9bn) in labour income. Teva’s generic medicines saved healthcare systems across nine European countries $9.6bn (€8.4bn) in 2020. Learn more about Teva and its  Economic Impact.

European Commission

Commission lays out practical solutions for medicines supply in Northern Ireland in the framework of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, and for sanitary and phytosanitary measures



On 26 July, the Commission published a series of ‘non-papers' in the fields of medicines and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, in the framework of the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. A non-paper specifically on medicines lays out the Commission's proposed solution to ensure a continued, long-term supply of medicines in Northern Ireland, from or through Great Britain. This non-paper was shared with the UK prior to the package of measures announced by the Commission on 30 June 2021, to address some of the most pressing issues related to the implementation of the Protocol in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.

Vice President Maroš Šefčovič said: “These solutions have an unambiguous common denominator – they were brought about with the core purpose of benefitting the people in Northern Ireland. Ultimately, our work is about ensuring that the hard-earned gains of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement – peace and stability in Northern Ireland – are protected, while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the integrity of the EU Single Market.”

The solution on medicines involves the EU changing its own rules, within the framework of the Protocol, so that regulatory compliance functions for medicines supplied to the Northern Ireland market only, may be permanently located in Great Britain, subject to specific conditions ensuring that the medicines concerned are not further distributed in the EU Internal Market. The medicines concerned here are primarily generic and over-the-counter products. The solution demonstrates the Commission's commitment to the people in Northern Ireland and to the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, with a legislative proposal expected in the early autumn in order to be able to finish the legislative process on time.


The other non-papers published today relate to a solution identified by the Commission to ease the movement of assistance dogs accompanying persons travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and a proposal by the Commission to simplify the movements of livestock from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and to clarify the rules on EU-origin animal products that are moved to Great Britain for storage before being shipped to Northern Ireland. All these papers, outlining the flexibilities offered by the Commission, have been shared with the UK and EU member states, and are available online.

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Public health: Stronger rules on medical devices




New EU rules on medical devices (MDR) enter into application, establishing a modern and more robust regulatory framework to protect public health and patient safety. The new rules start applying after a one-year postponement due to the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, addressing the need for an increased availability of vitally important medical devices across the EU.

The Regulation covers medical devices ranging from hip replacements to sticking plasters. It increases transparency and brings EU legislation in line with technological advances and progress in medical science. It improves clinical safety and creates fair market access for manufacturers.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “This is an important step forward for the protection of patients across Europe. The new rules improve the safety and quality of medical devices while providing more transparency for patients and less administrative burden for businesses. The legislation will strengthen innovation and our international competitiveness, ensuring that we are ready for any new and emerging challenges.”

In summary, the Medical Devices Regulation:

  • Improves the quality, safety and reliability of medical devices: it imposes tighter controls on high-risk devices such as implants and requires the consultation of a pool of EU level experts before placing medical devices on the market. Clinical evaluations, investigations and the notified bodies that approve the certification of medical devices will be subject to tighter controls.
  • Strengthens transparency and information for patients, so that vital information is easy to find. The European database of medical devices (EUDAMED), will contain information about each medical device on the market, including economic operators and certificates issued by notified bodies. Each device will have a unique device identifier so that it can be found in EUDAMED. More detailed labelling and electronic manuals will increase user-friendliness. Implant patients will receive an implant card with all the essential information.
  • Enhances vigilance and market surveillance:Once devices are available on the market, manufacturers have to collect data about the devices' performance. EU countries will closely coordinate their vigilance and market surveillance.


There are over 500,000 types of medical devices on the EU market. Examples of medical devices are contact lenses, x-ray machines, ventilators, pacemakers, software, breast implants, hip replacements and sticking plasters.

Medical devices have a fundamental role in saving lives by providing innovative healthcare solutions for the diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, prediction, prognosis, treatment or alleviation of disease.

The Regulation on medical devices is complemented by the Regulation on in vitro diagnostic medical devices (2017/746/EU) with a date of application of 26 May 2022. In vitro diagnostic medical devices are used to perform tests on samples, include HIV blood tests, pregnancy tests, COVID-19 tests and blood sugar monitoring systems for diabetics.

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UK urges medicine suppliers to stockpile before #Brexit transition ends



The British government has urged medicine suppliers to prepare for the country’s exit from the EU single market and customs union on 31 December by building up six weeks’ worth of stocks in case of disruption to imports, writes Estelle Shirbon. 

Under the terms of an ongoing transition period, customs and border arrangements have remained unchanged since Britain left the European Union on 31 January, but new checks are expected to come into force when the transition ends on 31 December. “We recognize that global supply chains are under significant pressure, exacerbated by recent events with COVID-19,” the health ministry said in a letter to medicine suppliers which it published on Monday (3 July).

“However, we encourage companies to make stockpiling a key part of contingency plans, and ask industry, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of six weeks’ total stock on UK soil.”

Britain and the EU are negotiating the terms of a new free trade agreement, but it is not clear whether a deal will be agreed and implemented before the 31 December deadline, reviving fears of a disruptive “hard Brexit”.

The government letter outlined the multiple pressures that the National Health Service (NHS) would be facing by winter. “The ongoing pandemic, gradual resumption of NHS activity, and seasonal pressures, mean we must prepare thoroughly for the end of the transition period,” it said.

To ensure continuity of patient care, medicine suppliers should prepare to reroute freight away from potential disruption points, especially the crossings between Dover and Folkestone on the English side and Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk in France.

“Companies are encouraged to review their own logistics arrangements and consider making plans for avoiding the short straits as a matter of priority,” the letter said. The health ministry stood ready to support companies with their plans if needed.

The ministry said it had built up a centralized stock of fast-moving medical devices and clinical consumables in the run-up to the exit from the EU on 31 January.

“Some of this stock remains and accounting for likely demand trends for the time of year, we plan to build these levels back up to a target level of six weeks’ total stock,” it said.

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