Partnering for European Medicines Resilience

By Valérie Fontaine, EVP, Regional Business Coordination, Fresenius Kabi

Secure and consistent provision of medicines lies at the heart of the long-standing cooperation between Fresenius Kabi and Medicines for Europe. Fortunately, the supply of medicines within the European Union has maintained a consistent supply, even in challenging times. The health and well-being of EU citizens relies on the pharmaceutical industry and regulators working together to ensure reliable and high-quality supply.

The value of engaging with Medicines for Europe was demonstrated in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first months and weeks, nations everywhere established restrictive border controls across Europe. To keep supplies moving, the European Commission introduced its ‘Green Lanes’ guidance, intended to ensure border crossings along specified major carriageways remained open for healthcare supplies in particular.

Valérie Fontaine at an Medicines for Europe event

One of the organizations that proposed the Green Lane initiative was Medicines for Europe. The industry body represents companies, including Fresenius Kabi, that produce about two thirds of the medicines manufactured and dispensed in the region. Medicines for Europe saw the very real risk that otherwise sensible COVID roadblocks presented to human health: it could’ve impeded the flow of medicines like Propofol, which is widely administered to maintain the sedation of severely ill COVID patients under ventilation. 

Reliable provision of generic and biosimilar medicines had to be maintained to ensure continued quality of care across Europe. In the end, the policy-influencing efforts of Medicines for Europe, and others, led to the wide adoption of open borders for all goods crossing European Union frontiers along the new Green Lane routes. 

We at Fresenius Kabi collaborate closely with Medicines for Europe and have for many years now. We currently have dozens of employees who are regularly active on its committees and working groups, from the executive committee, board and various committees to expert working groups. Fresenius Kabi has also held a presidency role for two years until 2019.  Our company shares a belief with Medicines for Europe in the need to pursue the widest possible access to medicines for every individual in Europe, regardless of the approach of their home state’s national health system. 

Valérie Fontaine, EVP, Regional Business Coordination, was quoted at the 2021 annual medicines for Europe and IGBA conference saying that Fresenius Kabi is “working hard to secure a regulatory and procurement framework that values European manufacturing and sustainable supply chains for generic drugs, which result in life-enhancing and life-saving medicines”. Medicines for Europe, and Fresenius Kabi, are committed to sustainable health policies, including an ambitious pharmaceutical industry strategy that delivers equitable and sustainable patient access to medicines. This falls in line with Fresenius Kabi’s strategic framework “Vision 2026” which, among other aspirations, aims to enable the company to contribute serving relevant trends in future healthcare. It is about delivering care tomorrow – reliably for Europe and beyond. The company’s products and services are lifesaving and improve quality of life for critically and chronically ill patients. As a powerful and adaptive organization, Fresenius Kabi embarks to tackle rising chronical diseases and demand for critical care in Europe in the decade to come.

“Patient access to medicines significantly increases when generic, biosimilar and value-added medicines enter the market, which now represent 80% of healthcare needs. Fresenius Kabi is an instrumental partner in ensuring the highest levels of quality, safety and efficacy across its portfolio of generic antibiotics”

Adrian Van den Hoven, Director General of Medicines for Europe

Of course, no matter what has been prescribed, a key factor is availability, which takes us back to security of supply. Fresenius Kabi is a global company with a global supply chain. But more than other companies, Fresenius Kabi has invested in a regional manufacturing network in Europe – from the active pharmaceutical ingredient to the finished medicine. We firmly believe that maintaining a regional manufacturing base for medicines is critical to Europe’s health security and resilience. Fresenius Kabi and Medicines for Europe support a strong, integrated regional, European production chain. With our EU-based manufacturing sites we have helped invigorate local economies in Italy, Portugal, and Austria, among others.

We showed during the pandemic that we can work together to implement effective steps to ensure the pharmaceutical supply chain within Europe remains robust. Despite the situation during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when nations were willing to pull political levers to secure national supplies, our company implemented all actions to ensure continuous supply of critical medicines in Europe. 

In the case that international competition for healthcare supplies becomes a significant factor in the future, we will continue to work together by maintaining and increasing European manufacturing capabilities and will work through our own initiatives, along with partners such as Medicines for Europe, to build even greater and more secure access to the medicines that patients need. 

Medicines for Europe event