In the first half of 2016, the Netherlands holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. Holding the Presidency, the Netherlands is responsible for drafting the agenda of EU Council meetings, chairing the meetings and trying to reach compromise between the 28 EU Member States.

In the health and pharmaceutical area, the Netherlands Ministry of Health has announced that it aims to focus on, inter alia, the following topics:

Timely access to affordable medicines
To ensure access to and availability of innovative and affordable medicinal products, the Dutch Minister of Health would like to have less rules and simpler rules for market access of medicinal products. This should be both in terms of marketing authorisation and in terms of pricing and reimbursement. Whenever possible, marketing authorisation and pricing/reimbursement procedures should take place simultaneously, using the same data. The right conditions for flexible marketing authorisation should be set.

The Minister of Health has also announced an analysis of the question whether the existing incentives to promote innovation are still necessary and in balance with the interest of quick access and affordability of medicines. This would address supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), regulatory data protection and market exclusivity.

The Minister of Health wishes to reach transparency of pricing for medicinal products across EU Member States. Currently, several EU Member States enter into confidential pricing arrangements with manufacturers, the outcome of which cannot be shared with other EU Member States. The Netherlands has already initiated a pilot for joint price negotiations with Belgium and Luxembourg. The Netherlands would like to expand this in the EU more broadly. Acceptable drug pricing and price transparency are among the Minister of Health's priorities for the EU Presidency.

Antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial resistance will be one of the key priorities for the Netherlands Presidency of the EU. Further to the European Commission's Action Plan Against Antimicrobial Resistance of 2011 the EU Member States have taken measures in the areas of ensuring appropriate use of antimicrobial medicines, prevention of infection and the encouragement of product development and research. This is in line with the OneHealth initiative. This initiative aims for an integrated approach to health that focuses on the interactions between animals, humans and the environment.
During the EU Presidency, the Netherlands will in short focus on:

  • Surveillance of resistant bacteria;
  • Reduction of the use of critical antibiotics in animals;
  • Debate on a ban on the use of last-resort antibiotics in animals;
  • Food safety aspects;
  • Development and approval of new antibiotics;
  • Alternatives to antibiotics;
  • Exchange of policy initiatives in the area of antimicrobial resistance between the EU Member States.

eHealth
The European eHealth week will take place in Amsterdam from 8-10 June 2016. This event is hosted by the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry of Health and HIMSS Europe.
The Dutch Minister of Health would like to promote the Netherlands as a suitable location for eHealth startup companies.
Among the Dutch Ministry's goals in the area of eHealth are:

  • Promoting patient's direct access to medical data;
  • Promoting possibilities for patients to perform self-measuring with monitoring at a distance;
  • Improving possibilities for patients who receive home care to communicate 24/7 with a healthcare professional by video.

Food products improvement
The Minister of Health will furthermore put food product improvement on the agenda, addressing for example the potential reduction of the amounts of fat, salt and sugar in food. The Ministry will host a conference on the topic in Amsterdam in February 2016, aiming to get to a "Roadmap for Action", to be endorsed by EU Member States, industry, NGOs, the European Commission and the World Health Organisation.