Dalli pledges to follow Medicine Authority's advice on morning-after pill

Government to follow advice of medicines authority on making morning after pill available in pharmacies, civil liberties minister says 

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli said she would be following the medicines authority 's opinion on whether the morning after pill should be made available in pharmacies.

Speaking at the launch of the medicines authority’s new premises at the Life Sciences Park in San Gwann, Dalli said that she was grateful that the authority had not shunned the discussion of the controversial morning after pill, and she explained that their expertise in the field had made it advisable to follow their stance in such matters.

Speaking about the relocation of the authority, Dalli explained that the location put the authority in the country’s hub of scientific research, and she added that the authority was among the top five agencies in the EU in terms of assessment of generic medicines.  

She went on to explain that the relocation would mean savings of about a quarter of a million on rent bills over three years.

“In the last three years, the Authority participated in 14 centralised procedures and carried out the assessment of 54 procedures as Reference Member State,” Dalli said, outlining the authority’s successes.

Dalli also stressed that the authority had shown commitment to ensure the best possible medications are available to the public, while at the same time focusing on registering and testing medications for safety.

“The commitment to protect and enhance the health of people is renewed through strengthening its activities and new initiatives for the benefit of the pharmaceutical sector in Malta,” she said, adding that new initiatives such as the medicines intelligence and access unit are an excellent example of how regulators can strengthen their regulatory role whilst providing an excellent service to patients and consumers.

Dalli added that the latter initiative had led to a price reduction of 114 medicines in the last two years, where consumers could save up to 67%. She went on to explain that the Authority is among the top five agencies in the EU in terms of the assessment of generic medicines through the centralised procedure.

Chairperson of the Authority Profs. Serracino Inglott said that the results that had been achieved were only possible due to “unparalleled collegiality” both among workers of the authority itself, and with authorities.

“I have always believed that the important thing to do is to think about the needs of the patient and to work towards them rather than to focus on legislation or on bureaucracy,” he added.

During the presentation, Dalli also explained that the authority is starting a consultation on introducing an innovative assessment and improvement exercise for community pharmacies.

“This is already attracting the interests of other agencies and could serve as a role model for Europe,” she added.

Dalli also explained that given the recent UK referendum on the country’s membership in the EU and its result in favour of Brexit, the local medicines authority was leading a bid to become the headquarters for the European Medicines Agency in the event that the agency would have to move offices from London.

Referring to the imminent Brexit, Dalli also added that Malta would be welcoming the UK’s head of the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency.

“This visit shall also lead to discussions which would ensure that there will be no disruptions in the access to medicines by Malta as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union,” she explained.

Serracino Inglott also said that the authority was currently working on investing in education, with the authority investing approximately 10% of its budget on training, capacity building, international and European exposures for employees.

“Over 30% of the employees at the Medicines Authority are carrying out studies at Masters and Doctoral level,” he said, adding that a medicines authority international traineeship program is offered to support individuals undergoing Masters and Doctoral studies in an effort to shape a new generation of pharmaceutical leaders.

“Eighteen trainees are undergoing this programme with the authority,” he said.