Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, will today receive the Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Belgian Association of Clinical Researchers. The award recognises Ms Willmott’s extensive work on encouraging medical research and ensuring full transparency of clinical trial results.
Glenis Willmott MEP said:
“I am thrilled to be receiving this award from the experts in medical research. Three years ago, I visited a brain tumour centre in Nottingham where I met children suffering from some of the rarest cancers. For some of these children a clinical trial might be their only hope of survival. But because the conditions are so rare, researchers needed to work across borders and conduct a trial in a number of different countries at the same time. Currently that is very difficult and extremely expensive, but the new EU rules I have negotiated should facilitate those life-saving cross-border trials.”
Currently the results of only half of all trials are published, which can lead to unnecessary or even dangerous research being repeated. It can also lead to bad decision-making around health, as demonstrated recently by the stockpiling of billions of pounds worth of flu medicines, which previously unpublished trial results had shown were not particularly effective.
“These new rules will mean the results of trials must be published, advancing science and ensuring patient safety.”
“I hope these rules will encourage more research here in the East Midlands, and a more transparent system for pharmaceuticals across the whole of Europe.”
A Labour MEP has been chosen as the new chair of the European Parliament Working Group on Access to Medicines. The group works to improve the availability of medicines in some of the poorest countries in the EU and across the world, where preventable diseases kill millions each year.
Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:
“I am delighted to be the new chair of this group which works to advance access to medical treatment. We will only beat these diseases if European countries work together and take co-ordinated action.”
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 5 million children under 5 died last year from malnutrition and infectious diseases. The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented with drugs that are widely available in developed countries like the UK.
“Even with our modern medicines, the number of people dying each day for want of basic medical help is staggering. With tuberculosis making a comeback in Europe and Ebola devastating West Africa, a strong response from the EU is needed now more than ever.”
The Conservatives announced at their conference last week that they want to get rid of the Human Rights Act and make up their own. This is a politically driven move that ignores the importance of human rights in protecting citizens and holding our government to account.
The Human Rights Act was enacted in 1998, with support from both Labour and Conservatives, to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. The Convention was created by the Council of Europe, not the European Union, as a direct response to the horrors of the Second World War.
It tells us everything we need to know that the Conservative Press Office posted and then deleted a tweet claiming that getting rid of the Human Rights Act will stop the EU from having more of a say in our laws, when the EU has nothing to do with the Act, or the European Convention on Human Rights.
Human rights have had a major impact on our society, and changed it for the better. They allow us to hold our government to account, and protect fundamental rights, including the right to life, freedom from torture, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Human rights have helped to protect vulnerable children, with a case in 2001 finding that social services in the UK were not doing enough to protect them, and leading to the registering of at risk children. It was also a human rights case in 1981 that led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and a 1999 case that led to sexual orientation no longer being a bar to serving in the armed forces. It was also on the basis of human rights that the police’s refusal to delete the DNA of innocent people was declared illegal, which led to over a million profiles being deleted. These are only a few examples of how human rights help us to challenge injustice and hold our governments to account.
Scrapping the Human Rights Act would be a step backwards for our country, undermining the rights of citizens and our reputation across the globe. We would be left with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship, as the only countries in Europe whose laws are no longer compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Industry and internal market commissioner-designate Elżbieta Bieńkowska failed to explain why pharmaceutical and medical devices were taken out of the health portfolio when questioned by MEPs today.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour MEP for the East Midlands and Labour’s European spokesperson on health, said:
“It is disappointing Ms Bieńkowska didn’t answer directly whether or not she thinks pharmaceutical and medical devices should really be in the health commissioner’s portfolio.
“This sends entirely the wrong signal to patients across Europe. Medicines and medical devices are not just about making money – first and foremost they are about improving and protecting people’s health. Of course Europe’s pharmaceutical and medical technology industries are important to our economy, but our first priority must be patient safety.”
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“When I was negotiating the transparency laws for clinical trial results, it was DG Enterprise that wanted to water the rules down. Shockingly they will now be overseeing the European Medicines Agency as it implements the transparency regime.”
“Following the breast implant scandal people expect stronger regulation of medical devices, regulation that protects patients. Clearly medical devices should be the responsibility of the Heath Commissioner.”