Fabian Demicoli

GRTU wishes to comment on the initiative taken by the MLP regarding the registration of medicines.

GRTU has examined the letter sent by the MLP proposing the Luxembourg model to solve Malta’s medicine registration problem. Whilst thanking the MLP for the interest, GRTU believes that the response given by Commissioner Verhuegen, while convergent with the discussions now underway between the Government and the social partners on this issue, does not suffice as a solution to Malta’s current medicine registration problems. GRTU contends that any settlement of this issue has to take place under existing EU legislation and in agreement with the social partners in Malta.

GRTU has examined the letter sent by the MLP proposing the Luxembourg model to solve Malta’s medicine registration problem. Whilst thanking the MLP for the interest, GRTU believes that the response given by Commissioner Verhuegen, while convergent with the discussions now underway between the Government and the social partners on this issue, does not suffice as a solution to Malta’s current medicine registration problems. GRTU contends that any settlement of this issue has to take place under existing EU legislation and in agreement with the social partners in Malta.

GRTU states that by simply introducing the Luxembourg model as a basis for registration of medicines will not solve all Malta’s problems. Malta needs a strong well funded Medicines Authority in order to fulfil its role as an EU member state. Besides importing for its own needs, Malta also has a relatively strong and growing manufacturing and re-export industry. This new sector registers twenty new medicines a month, which besides important government revenue, also guarantees a substantial element of foreign direct investment to Malta and provides a substantial amount of high quality employment with great economic valualive. The pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Malta is today an important part of Malta’s manufacturing sector and a contributor to GDP that cannot be denied. The medicine authority must guarantee that the foreign and Maltese investors in this sector remain in Malta and continue to offer employment to Maltese workers and service contracts to many self employed and other small Maltese businesses.

It is important, GRTU contends, that a Maltese Medicines Authority, remains to offers services to the growing pharmaceutical manufacturing base in Malta. Just introducing the Luxembourg model on its own is, therefore, with all respect to the welcome efforts of the labour MEP’s, not the holistic solution that GRTU favours. There are many other issues that an acceptable solution must address. The problems that need to be resolved include the issue of fees and other technical issues. The most important is the registration of the medicines that have not been registered by Maltese traders or their suppliers, with the result that a vast amount of medicines are now vanishing from the Maltese market, thus endangering the health services standards of our country. In addition to this, there is the problem of failure by Maltese importers, or their suppliers, to register new medicine. Both these failures are due to the exorbitant cost of registration of medicines in Malta.

GRTU has made proposals to the Maltese Government that, while safeguarding the jobs and investments of the growing Maltese manufacturing sector, would also make available on the Maltese market the largest number of medicines possible and at the best prices to consumers.

GRTU points out that the solutions implemented in the past, like the introduction of the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CPP) system in 1997, contributed in no small way to reducing competition in the market with the consequences that prices increased. It also resulted in a large amount of products being placed on the market from countries where the CPP was easily obtainable without due attention being given to quality. GRTU, today, therefore, is hesitant to recommends solutions that do not fully respect specific Maltese market conditions.

GRTU therefore believes that instead of proposing the Luxemburg model, as a solution, it is best that the current process of consultation involving all stakeholders and Government authorities is concluded at the earliest. GRTU recommends that the Labour opposition is also involved in these consultations so that whatever solution is agreed to, is genuinely an national solution.

GRTU is confident that the discussions presently under way will provide a solution that meets the requirements of the country for the years to come. In the coming days an important meeting chaired by the Prime Minister is being held and GRTU is expecting a final solution to this long protracted problem. GRTU now expects the two sides of the political spectrum in Malta to come together and agree on the solution being proposed, and hopefully agreed to, by the social partners and the Maltese medicine authorities.

For Release
July 12, 2006

For further information please do not hesitate to contact:
Mr. Mario Debono on 99494405

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