The Committee of Ministers has adopted a Recommendation to promote, in the 46 Council of Europe member states, equitable access to medicinal products and medical equipment in a situation of shortage and to safeguard the fundamental rights of individuals who need them for serious or life-threatening health conditions.
Prepared by the Steering Committee for Human Rights in the fields of Biomedicine and Health (CDBIO) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to the shortage of medicinal products and medical equipment engendered by the health crisis, the Recommendation lays down general human rights and procedural principles to ensure, inter alia, the absence of discrimination, through, for example, prioritisation based on medical criteria and compliance with the principles of accountability, transparency and inclusiveness.
It also recommends ensuring that there is a system in place to prevent and mitigate situations of shortage and to better prepare for such shortages. The Recommendation applies to access to medicinal products and medical equipment certified through an appropriate regulatory process provided for by law, which are needed for patients with serious or life-threatening health conditions. As the Committee of Ministers points out, the principle of equitable access to health care remains valid during a situation of shortage of medicinal products and medical equipment, both in an emergency and during routine clinical practice, whatever the cause of the shortage.