EU wants power to negotiate flu vaccine prices

EU health chief John Dalli has proposed a measure that would allow the European Commission to bargain with Big Pharma to procure vaccines for its member states in future flu pandemics. "We believe that if member states jointly, with the facilitation of the Commission, embark on this type of negotiation, the leverage will be much bigger and we can get a much better deal from the pharma industry," Dalli said in a meeting ahead of the announcement, as reported by Reuters.

During the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, many EU member states had inadequate access to vaccines, while countries like Germany and Spain had more stock than they needed. Under the new plan, the EU would negotiate directly with pharma companies on behalf of member states; however, governments would still be responsible for buying and distributing their vaccine supply.

The proposal is part of a larger plan that would improve the EU's response to health issues. A majority of EU governments much approve the measure for the proposal to become law, and that process may take more than a year. However, Dalli said most countries are likely to back the plan.

- here's the Reuters report

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