EPSA Policy Newsletter 1st Edition

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1st Edition 2020 - 2021






Dear reader, It is my pleasure to present you the first edition of the Policy Newsletter for the mandate 2020/2021. The purpose of this publication is to inform the EPSA Member Associations and the EPSA Team on the developments on the European level, especially in the Brussels environment and the activity there, as well as the policy and advocacy work being developed by the EPSA Interns in Brussels (EPSA Intern News). It also supports Member Associations in presenting their work in advocacy, hence in this edition you can read about initiatives carried out by BPhD Germany, FASFR Romania, APEF Portugal, PPSA Poland, ANEPF France, BPSA United Kingdom and K.N.P.S.V. The Netherlands. This time a new section was introduced – Meet the EduProf Representatives, where you can find a short interview with Miruna Bontas from FASFR Romania. I would like to thank to everyone who contributed with articles, to Jess McNamara – the EPSA Vice President of European Affairs 2020/2021 for supporting me in this initiative and of course Said Danishani – the EPSA Design Coordinator 2020/2021 for designing it.

Piotr Nawrocki Policy Affairs Coordinator 2020/2021



I hope you enjoy reading this Policy Newsletter as much as I enjoyed preparing it! Yours in EPSA,


Hi! My name is Paulina and here are some insights into my internship in

Medicines for Europe I did last year. During my studies, it was during my second gap year when I first changed course, and it was a really good decision, as it turned out. All in all, when I thought about the opportunity to move to Brussels for a year, I had no doubt it would be a great opportunity. Since I already knew a bit about what the opportunities that were out there for pharmacists, I chose to apply for internships connected to the pharmaceutical industry, and Medicines for Europe was a great fit. My main duties were typical administrative work, but what I liked the most was getting to know the European view on the topics and discussions in the pharmaceutical world which I would never have had a chance to look into otherwise. I learnt more about how to interact in new environments, how policy consultations look like and how legislation can be affected by realworld situations. COVID-19 impacted the work in a great way, postponing all ongoing projects, major consultations and shifting everyone’s work to topics related to supply chain problems that the EU was dealing with when borders were closed. I’m super happy I had this chance and got to understand a little bit more when it comes to EU topics, and of course, see what it’s like to really live in Belgium. EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION



Sanja Aleksic

Last year, I did an EPSA Internship programme at the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) –an association representing Europe’s community pharmacists. As an intern, I was assisting the Secretariat in their daily work and therefore directly or indirectly was involved in all projects and initiatives launched by PGEU. The topics on which I was working on the most were Pharmacy Services and Activities, Vaccination, One Health, Medicine Shortages and COVID-19. My tasks varied from news monitoring, data analysis and report preparation to social media campaign design and video making. In addition, on behalf of PGEU, I attended lots of professional events in Brussels and beyond, in which I advocated for the pharmacy profession. The COVID-19 outbreak changed the lifestyle and work habits of many people around the world. However, I must say that our work at PGEU did not change a lot. Apart from working at home, we continued to devotedly support and represent the European community pharmacists that were and still are in the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease. I have never been more motivated and proud of the work that I have done than during the time of COVID-19. PGEU Internship was life-changing for me and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Bernardo Marinheiro

My internship started in November 2019 at the European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe) and lasted until the end of July. I was in the policy team with two other members and our role was to represent the voice of healthcare professionals in the field of paediatric oncology in collaboration with parents, patients, and survivors. As a policy intern, I started studying the needs of paediatric cancers straight away and studied all publications SIOP Europe was involved in (JARC; Position Papers; Manifesto, etc). After this, it was time to get more involved in the political environment so I attended several events at the EU Parliament on cancer, new therapies and healthcare in general to report back to SIOP Europe and help disseminate the needs of the paediatric cancer community. Part of my job was also organising events such as the International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day (ICCD 2020) and a few others which took place in the EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION


EU Parliament. My tasks included preparing speaker and special invitations, communication and management of participants, and technical support. As a bonus to all my work, I got to be in touch with healthcare professionals who are leading paediatric cancer research in Europe and in the world, with parents who fight every day for better treatment access and development for their children, with survivors who share impressive life stories and still fight treatment and cancer side effects which are not yet properly tackled in Europe, with Members of the European Parliament who genuinely care about changing the paediatric cancer reality in Europe and Members of the European Commission who are also preparing several recommendations through consultations. Regarding these “consultations”, the European Commission has started several during the last few months on “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan” and the “Pharmaceuticals – safe and affordable medicines (new EU strategy)”. Through them, the European Commission asks for everyone’s opinion on how Europe should proceed regarding the topics at hand. As a policy intern, it was my task to prepare the answers to these consultations to be shared with the paediatric cancer community after their approval from the SIOP Europe Board. Covid-19 had a huge impact on my internship. I used to go to the office every working day and attended events in the EU Parliament on average three times a week. This all stopped during the pandemic and we had to learn how to adapt. All events were either cancelled, postponed, or moved to an online platform which removed most of the personal interaction. Only seeing the SIOP Europe Team online was also tough as the human interaction and live support help with motivation and workflow, especially for an intern who needs to be guided. All in all, I had an amazing experience, had the chance to meet great and very driven people and worked with an amazing Team who fight every day for the benefit of the paediatric cancer community.



NEWS FROM BRUSSELS Remdesivir is the first and only drug recommended by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a treatment for COVID-19. The studies showed that patients treated with this medicine recovered within 11 days. The European Commission announced that they signed a â‚Ź63m contract with the US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead to provide batches of remdesivir for 30,000 patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. The Commission, supported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, will coordinate the treatment allocation among Member States to ensure fair distribution.

Every year the Erasmus+ Programme opens its three-day celebrations to past, present and future participants of the world. ErasmusDays have become a major European celebration of international mobility and intercultural exchange. It is a worthwhile possibility to Erasmus+ participants, beneficiaries, alumni, organisations and National Agencies to organise local events for citizens, media and policy makers to learn more about Erasmus+ and the wide range of projects it supports. It is an invaluable opportunity for project beneficiaries to spread the word about their projects, showcase their results and the impact of their work. The fourth edition of #ErasmusDays 2020 will take place on the 15th, 16th and 17th of October. EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION


This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ErasmusDays are an opportunity to convey a message of strength and resilience and show a positive sign of recovery to EU citizens.

One of EU targets for 2020 is a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels. In order to achieve this, the EU is taking steps in several areas. One of them is the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that includes greenhouse gas emissions from large-scale facilities in the power and industry sectors, as well as the aviation sector, which accounts for about 40% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce emissions from other sectors such as housing, agriculture, waste, transport (but not aviation), EU countries set the national emission reduction targets under the Effort Sharing Decision. The emissions from the sectors covered by national targets were 11% lower in 2018 than in 2005, exceeding the 2020 target of a 10% reduction.




FASFR Romania

Between 1-10 May 2020, FASFR conducted a public consultation of students and pharmacist residents, with the aim of presenting the collective wishes on the bibliography in the structure of the Romanian residency exam to decisionmakers within the Ministry of as not corresponding to National Education, Ministry their knowledge. A second of Health and the National point raised by the students Council of Rectors. in their practical year was the regulation of the days 363 pharmacy students who off through illness. BPhD will take the residency exam in Germany has analysed and the period 2020-2022, as well summarised the results so as resident pharmacists from far. Further discussions with all years and from all specialities the authorities have yet to in the pharmaceutical field, happen. contributed to the statistics. The COVID-19 crisis was sudden for everyone, including Following the general analysis the pharmacies. They found of the data, problems themselves in need of staff, were identified with the for instance, in order to assure Residency Exam Curriculum, the coverage of disinfection the unjustified use of products. BPhD then created outdated and non-compliant a platform and thus linked bibliographic sources of students and pharmacies, Western European Space through which both sides and European Standards. The could establish contact with current form of the residency each other. Many pharmacies exam is a major impediment as well as many students for final year students and have used the platform and future generations who are pharmacy students have considering continuing their been given an opportunity to pharmaceutical specialities, help their society. due to a strategy based on the concept of memorisation and the use of learning resources that are not related to current needs in the health

BPhD Germany The latest campaign which BPhD Germany initiated was the Mental Health Campaign. The main objective of their campaign was to collect the opinion of students in the process of studying and of such who have already started their practical year, hence the preparation for the third part of the state exam. Two surveys have been conducted and the results have been carefully analysed. According to the answers, the conclusion was drawn that the pharmacy education causes high levels of stress, resulting from the intensity of the curriculum. Students in their practical year criticized the remuneration



care system. As a result of our efforts, the Minister of Health announced on the 24th of June 2020, the implementation of a new bibliography. Based on the opinions of students, residents, and following the consultation of teachers involved in organising the residency competition, the rectors concluded that the best solution would be to replace the bibliography currently used with an international bibliographic material, translated into Romanian. This material will enter into force in 2021, starting with the generation that is currently in the fourth year of study. The advantages of using international reference works are an alignment with current medical standards and easier updating in the future.

Taking into account that the internships were very affected by the epidemiologic situation in Portugal due to COVID-19, APEF aims to hear what students think about the changes that the internships suffered, how was it monitored by the Institution as an intern point of view during that period and how they think that this situation is going to affect their professional recognition. In the survey, there was one section that gives the opportunity to the students to make their suggestions in order to avoid the same situation if another pandemic wave occurs. With the survey’s results, APEF aims to work with stakeholders in order to advocate for the curricular internship conditions and to be an active part of the solution in the improvement of them.

PPSA Poland

APEF Portugal On July 15th, APEF released a survey aiming to gather the students’ opinions about the curricular internships in Community Pharmacy. The target of the survey were the students doing the curricular internship at the moment and the students that did the internship in 2018/2019.

It’s the first time when PPSA is getting a new position of Spokesperson. For the mandate 2020/2021, the

position will be held by Karol Zakrzewski. We are one of the biggest students’ organisations across Poland and we really would like to take care of our students being heard in public discussions, especially now when we are in the final steps of launching new pharmaceutical law which will give the pharmacist new responsibilities and opportunities in the field of pharmaceutical care. We also would like to expand our collaboration with the Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber and other governmental and nongovernmental organisations which have the impact of changing today’s pharmacy in Poland.

ANEPF France The COVID-19 crisis prevented all pharmacy students from living their daily lives in a normal way: Isolation, stress, mental pressure, endangering their mental health. The universities’ closures and the loss of a student routine with the confinement, directly preceding the summer holidays also played an important role. ANEPF has therefore decided to take action by organising a week for students’ well-being and mental health before the beginning of the school year, to give back a rhythm and promote health and the necessary resources to start their year. A survey has been created and completed by



over 800 students all over France, aiming to take into consideration the students’ needs and this week’s training closest to their expectations. Throughout the week, the students will be given cooking classes following the national nutrition plan, sports workshops, stress management and yoga classes, and other workshops given by students and professionals on sexual health, road safety, and live shows by french artists. Two of those live classes will be broadcasted in English, and promoted around the world to help all kinds of students in need of well-being.

BPSA United Kingdom

The BPSA has been supporting and celebrating inclusivity and diversity recently, through our work on the Black Lives Matter movement and social media posts for Pride Month. They released a statement on how they intend to support Black students and tackle the issues they face in the pharmacy world, and they also created a petition requesting all pharmacy schools to include BAME representation in their teaching, particularly where disease presentation differs between white and black and minority ethnic (BAME) patients. BPSA will shortly be releasing an Inclusivity and Diversity survey for their members to complete so that they have a greater idea of

how to properly support their crisis. As such, K.N.P.S.V. members in the future. made and wrotecards for the lonely elderly to bring BPSA will be publishing the them joy, helped people that results of the Mental Health could not leave the house and Wellbeing survey in by doing groceries, helped a document outlining the students in deciding what to mental health challenges study by providing them with MPharm students face, information about the study especially during the time of program of pharmacy, helped the COVID-19 pandemic, and companies responsible for the key recommendations making protective clothing that the Association suggests. including masks and had Survey results identified contact with lonely elderly to that the need for wellbeing talk about their worries due to support for our members is corona. Many of these people critical, and it also highlighted have expressed their gratitude the extent to which stigma is for helping them or talking to impacting an individual’s ability them. Most of these initiatives to speak about their mental have taken place from people’s health and to take action. own houses and did not The BPSA will continue to necessarily require leaving the advocate for the importance house. Theseinitiatives took of mental health, reducing place during April, when it was stigma, and supporting future advised to stay at home. All of pharmacists. these small initiatives can help out people who really need it. K.N.P.S.V. The Netherlands In the Netherlands, there are several organisations that can link people who require help with people willing to help out. If you are also interested in helping out you can always search for such organisations in your own countries!

This association has undertaken an initiative surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. The executive board of the K.N.P.S.V. has helped out the people who are affected the most by the




FASFR Romania FASFR Position paper on the amendment banning any activity on gender identity

FASFR joined the state universities, several human rights NGOs, academics, and the LGBTQ+ community which have all spoken out against a law that will make talking about gender identity in schools and universities illegal, and a petition has been signed by over 40,000 people who demand the President of Romania to reject it. The legislative proposal for amending and supplementing the National Education Law no. 1/2011 is an unconstitutional text, which violates the academic freedom, freedom of expression, and the right to initial and continuing education of young people and professionals in Romania. Also, the text of the law contradicts the international obligations assumed by Romania on the fight against violence against women and the promotion of gender equality. Worst of all, this bill violates the Romanian Constitution itself and the European Convention on Human Rights because it prevents the exercise of positive obligations of the Romanian state to prevent discrimination against women and transgender EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION


people by prohibiting training in this field for magistrates, police, doctors, assistants social and other key professions in ensuring equality in society and preventing gender-based violence. The President of Romania decided to notify the Constitutional Court of Romania on this law. For now, we are waiting for the voting procedure.

APEF Portugal

In February 2019, the Portuguese National Association of Pharmacies launched the petition ‘Save Pharmacies, Comply with the National Health Service’, which collected more than 120,000 signatures, making it the most popular public petition in the legislature. The petition mirrored the worrying situation of Portuguese pharmacies and proposed seven measures to improve the sector’s sustainability. This year, the Assembly of the Republic debated the aforementioned petition, on which 4 resolutions’ projects were approved in favour of the financial sustainability of Portuguese pharmacies, aiming to enable equal access to medicine by the population. All resolutions’ projects emphasised the role that pharmacies play daily, in the lives of citizens as a place of proximity to the patient. They also mentioned how pharmacies quickly adapted to the new reality created by COVID-19, showing once again the importance that pharmacies and pharmacists have in supporting the population. EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION


ANEPF France Pharmacy Students allowed to perform COVID-19 screening tests

On July 25th, the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity published a press release allowing pharmacy students to perform the COVID-19 virological screening test (RT-PCR) provided that they have undergone specific training. It was also valid for students in dentistry, maieutics, nursing assistants, statequalified nurses and others. This provision intended to address the possible lack of availability of health professionals qualified to perform the PCR screening test in some areas. This was considerable in a country where more than 3.8 million people live in medical deserts, and with more than 187,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, according to the French Public Health Agency. Health Students were happy to be considered and feel more involved in this fight against the current health crisis.



BPSA United Kingdom

ÂŁ300 million in funding was announced in April 2020 to ensure that community pharmacies in the UK can continue to carry out essential services, including the supply of medicines and provision of medical advice to patients, during the COVID-19 outbreak. The government announced that public sector workers, including doctors, are to get an above-inflation pay rise because of their contribution to the pandemic. Our professional body is asking the Government for immediate and urgent clarification about the unacceptable omission of pharmacists in this pay rise, as it is critical that they value our key NHS workers. The UK Government is slowly loosening the lockdown as pubs and other leisure activities are opening up.

K.N.P.S.V. The Netherlands

Worldwide, many people have talked about the potential presence of the carcinogenic compound PCA in amphetamine. Most of the amphetamine distributed in the Netherlands is produced in China. After the NCR and the television program Zembla have revealed that the raw materials of amphetamine is polluted with the carcinogenic compound PCA, the Royal Dutch Pharmacist Association has decided to start investigating this matter further. The Netherlands is participating in an international study to investigate the potential protective function of the tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) against COVID-19. Approximately 10 thousand people will participate from Australia, Spain and the Netherlands. To some of the participants, the BCG-vaccine will be administered, while a placebo is given to the others. If the vaccinated group turns out to be less infected than the placebo group, this vaccine might be an option in the prevention of COVID. EUROPEAN PHARMACEUTICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION


MEET THE EDUPROF REPRESENTATIVES Miruna Bontas FASFR Romania Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Miruna, the LS and NIMP for FASFR in the mandate 20/21. I am 22 years old and have finished my third year of studies. I like to consider myself a small type of girl with big hopes and dreams for the future. My enthusiastic nature is best revealed by dancing. Since I was 4 years old I started to go to dance classes and even to sportive dance competitions. Also, I love to travel and meet new people and perspectives on the world and that is a big reason why I chose this position.

What do you like most about being an EduProf Representative? The fact that I am always in the loop with news from my country, as well as news from all around Europe. Thus, if something similar is going on in another country, I can give my association’s input to help and sustain the opinion of that country on a particular topic. In fewer words: fighting together for the same cause and providing a better journey for the pharmaceutical students around Europe.



What are the main topics that your association covers on a national level? Bibliography changes for the residency exam: All Romanian students wanted an update to the actual curricula for the residency exam. So, FASFR wrote a position paper about this topic and changes are about to happen soon, due to the fact that our inițiative was presented to the Ministry of Health. Residency exam in Romania is an exam taken by students who want to become a specialist on a particular pharmacy branch. Gender identity in Romanian schools and universities: FASFR joined the state universities, several human rights NGOs, academics, and the LGBTQ+ community that have all spoken out against a law that will make talking about gender identity in schools and universities illegal. The law violates many international human rights treaties signed by Romania, including the right to knowledge and the freedom of information and education. Adding pharmacists to the list of beneficiaries of risk incentive: On the 6th of April, the Romanian Government released another Emergency Order. This order refers to doctors, medical and paramedical staff, including auxiliary staff, directly involved in the transportation, equipment, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of patients infected with COVID-19 by giving all of them a risk incentive of 2.500 RON/month. FASFR brought to attention the fact that pharmacists were not on this list and after our initiative, they have been added. Invariable access to the entire recommended treatment of Romanian patients: Currently, the Ministry of Health in Romania allows the export of medicines from our country without the approval of ANMDMR (National Drug Agency) if the Agency fails to give an answer to any request within the seven working days provided. This is a fraudulent occasion, which can lead to the absence of medicines intended for Romanian patients. FASFR considers that the pressure on ANMDMR is unfair and it can produce direct negative consequences for the Romanian health system.

How did you become interested or active in advocacy? After I sent the first FASFR Position Paper on the EduProf Representatives Group and saw the reaction of the other representatives from Europe. The appreciation and interest in the changes that FASFR believes in, were overwhelming.



What are the main gaps that you have identified in the pharmaceutical education in your country? -outdated teaching methods -lack of non-formal communication between students and teachers -bibliography out of date and non-compliant with European standards

How do you think student-led advocacy can play a role in the decisions of policy makers? Uniting the voices of students across Europe, shouting in unison for the same cause, we can bring a lot of change by putting pressure on the authorities.

What inspires you the most? Kindness

What advice would you give to other students that are interested in advocacy? Dare to make your voice heard! Trust me, it can change perspectives and even lives.



OUR TEAM Piotr Nawrocki Policy Affairs Coordinator 2020/2021 policy@epsa-online.org

Jess McNamara VP European Affairs 2020/2021 vp.ea@epsa-online.org



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