An informal Health Council meeting was held in Amsterdam on 17-18 April 2016 as part of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council formation. The Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) represented the UK.
There was a discussion on innovation and pharmaceuticals and topics raised by participants included health technology assessment, pharmaceutical pricing, the joint procurement agreement and different regulatory mechanisms, including priority designation for medicines (PRIME). The UK stressed its support for regulatory work that helped to get effective innovative products to patients sooner. The UK also stated that some joint working on information sharing on pricing and horizon scanning could be useful but underlined that all work must be voluntary and fully respect member state competence.
There was a discussion on initiatives member states are taking forward at a national level to encourage healthy eating. The UK said that national action was required on a variety of fronts, including partnership working with industry, and underlined the significant cost of type 2 diabetes and the need to focus on children.
The UK stated that it could not just be for consumers to act, and stressed that consumers would want further information, for example, through mobile apps. The UK also stated the importance of physical activity and explained the recent sugar levy announcement.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
The Dutch presidency raised the issue of AMR as a top priority and stressed that a one-health approach covering human and animal health was vital. The UK underlined the cost of inaction, praised the presidency’s desire for an ambitious outcome at the UN General Assembly, and supported their one-health approach. The UK supported an ambitious agenda on AMR which would lead to concrete progress, provided that member state competence was fully respected. The UK also flagged the importance of the current independent AMR review launched by the Prime Minister.