Parallel distribution in pharmaceuticals creates competition in a business where patents provide the rights owner with a monopoly. This is good for the European economy, good for health care systems and good for patients. Affordable Medicines Europe is the only Brussels-based non-profit organisation which brings together the licensed European pharmaceutical parallel distribution industry, championing the industry’s achievements and the benefits of its products.
Parallel distributors are registered as pharmaceutical wholesalers who supply the intra-European market (often called ‘exporters’) or who place medicines from another country market in their market of destination (often called ‘importers’) who must in addition hold a manufacturing authorisation for the necessary repackaging.
Through the direct membership of 14 national associations and 21 individual companies, the Affordable Medicines Europe encompasses about 100 firms from 23 countries engaged in parallel distribution in the European Economic Area (EEA), representing 80 percent of the volume of the overall industry. Affordable Medicines Europe member companies are nearly all privately owned small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
All products handled by Affordable Medicines Europe members have national and/or EU regulatory approval and are exclusively sourced from and sold to European Economic Area (EEA) countries using only authorised trade channels.
Goals and actions
The primary goal of Affordable Medicines Europe is to enable, safeguard and foster parallel distribution in branded medicinal products. The association is committed to free trade within the EEA, competition in the European Single Market and to the completion of a functioning EU internal market.
To achieve its goals and support its members’ business, Affordable Medicines Europe undertakes the following actions:
- Analysing activities and initiatives in the area of pharmaceutical parallel distribution
- Providing members with relevant data and information to inform their decision making
- Offering a platform for members to network, gather knowledge and share expertise
- Carrying out scientific studies and analyses of our member’s activities to bring the industry together under specific commitments and joint actions to improve their competitiveness
- Encouraging members to promote and co-operate in the development of parallel distribution as a means of completing the EU single market and providing innovative medicines to all Europeans at affordable prices
- Co-operating with other associations that have similar or interrelated interests
- Ensuring the acceptance of the Added Value provided by parallel distribution
- Promoting the application of the Affordable Medicines Europe Guidelines on Good Parallel Distribution Practices (Code of Operational Conduct) by its Members and other operators within the parallel distribution industry
- Monitoring relevant policy initiatives at EU and international level, contributing with technical information, representing the industry vis-à-vis third parties and assisting in implementing legislation.
Affordable Medicines Europe stands for the visibility of the industry and acts on emerging issues, making Affordable Medicines Europe a valuable source of expertise and constructive counterpart for government institutions and health care payers at the European and national level.
Affordable Medicines Europe was founded in June 1998 but parallel distribution in medicines began long before the association, more than four decades ago. The original pioneers imported products from Italy into Germany and the UK. Soon after, medicines were increasingly traded from Greece and Spain into Scandinavia.
For a while parallel distribution operated mostly from the South to the North but in the last fifteen years, enabled by the European Single Market, parallel distribution has become a veritable intra-European activity. Nearly all EEA countries, where no barriers to trade exist, experience and benefit from incoming and outgoing parallel distribution.
Affordable Medicines Europe is and remains the only body to bring together pharmaceutical parallel distributors from across the European Economic Area (EEA).