As a board member of IAPO I took part in the expert workshop about ”Good practices for the classification of medicines as regards their supply which protect public health and promote the accessibility of medicines in Europe ”. There were 30 participants from Europe : medical authorities, healthcare professionals, representatives from Committee of experts on the Classification of Medicines, patient organizations, officials from Council of Europe, international organizations like WHO etc.
The meeting was held in Strasbourg – France from 7 till 9 November 2011.
The avialability of medicines with or without a medical prescription has implications on patient safety, the accessibility of medicines to patients and the resposible management of health care expenditure. The decision on prescription status and related supply conditions is a core competency of national health authorities. The conditions of the supply of medicines vary considerably due to the facts that the provisions are interpreted and implemented differently by the member states of the Council of Europe and that important additional criteria are not harmonised. In the light of moves to make medicines more avialable without a prescription, the harmonisation of classification criteria and supply conditions including package sites and age limits are relevant for public health protection. The Committee of Experts issues annually recommendations to health authorities of member states, EU and non EU members, for the classificcation of medicines as regards their supply and establishes good classification practices.
Aim of the expert workshop were ; confirmation of the specific support and value of the Committee of Experts for the stakeholders, the direction and focus of its work and agreement on initiatives targeted to help promote the accessibilty of medicines in Europe whilst protecting public health.
During this meeting we agree that it would be useful to establish information exchange between countries on self-medication trends, patients education and other aspects in relation to classification decisions. We add also that improved health literacy also helps empower patients to take resposibility for their health. Differences are high, so it should be considered in the classificcation process. Every country should provide more details about the social dimension – indicators should be developed. All particpants stressed that there is a strong role for patient and professional organizations to help in educating the population in medical conditions and safe use of medicines.
Where medicines are mostly avialable as prescription medicine there is less incentive for patients to take resposibility for their own health, where there is wider avialability of non prescription medicines patients are empowered.