Health minister: European Medicines Agency official stamp important for us

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center).
Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: Government Office

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) has said, while in theory, the Estonian State Agency of Medicines could allow new coronavirus medications to be sold on the market before the approval of the European Medicines Agency, he does not think this is a credible solution.

Several new medicines to treat coronavirus are currently awaiting approval from the European Medicines Agency. But it is not yet known when they will be authorized for use.

"The European Medicines Agency is not an abstract association, but a network of European medicines agencies. In theory, we could make an exception, but the [combined] knowledge and competence of the 27 countries are much higher. [There is the possibility] To ask the pharmaceutical companies something or to get additional data," Kiik said on ETV morning program "Terevisioon" on Monday.

Asked if Estonia could ask the pharmaceutical companies for the medicines, Kiik said at some point it will certainly be possible, but it would happen later than it the European Medicines Agency asks.

"There's a principle in the field that action needs to be taken fast, but not in a hurry. I hope that the companies will present their proof immediately so it's easier for the medicines agency to make decisions," the minister said.

"When there's enough data and Europe's decisions are delayed, then as an exception, the European Medicines Agency can introduce the medication without a marketing authorization. But the official stamp of the European Medicines Agency is the most important thing for us," he said.

He added that new and better medications are coming. How fast would the approval by the medicines agency come, Kiik could not say.

"I hope it will come by the end of the year. Our medicines agency is not convinced about it. But there's interest and hope. And we are not the only ones waiting for it. The European Medicines Agency has been at a later stage in its decisions than the United States and the United Kingdom, so this expectation is understandable."

The health minister said people should not believe this reduces the need to vaccinate themselves against coronavirus.

"Vaccination is a preventive medicine and the most effective medicine," he said.

Kiik to discuss vaccine damage fund with government this week

Speaking about the vaccine damage fund, which the Center Party has wanted and which the coalition partner Reform Party has been skeptical about, Kiik said that he will take the issue to the government this week.

But there is more to discuss than the creation of a coronavirus vaccine damage fund.

"Discussions on this have been going on for a long time. Yes, today it is possible for anyone to go to court against a pharmaceutical company, but it is understandably difficult for a person to do so. The government has decided we will solve these issues through the patient insurance system," he said.

Speaking about possible new restrictions, Kiik said that he does not think some areas would be completely closed.

"The Health Board presented its proposals at the end of last week, the Scientific Council will meet today. By Tuesday afternoon, when the government's cabinet is together, it will be clear whether any action is needed. Establishing restrictions is not our aim, we want to stop the spread of the virus. In all countries where mortality is at its peak today, vaccination rates are below the European average."

Kiik said its possible restrictions may affect the number of participants at events and entertainment.

"But I don't think it's realistic to close down any sectors."'


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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