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EC sets out its pharma priorities

New strategy puts the industry at the heart of Europe’s economic growth prospects, saysEFPIA
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Greater public-private co-operation, wider availability of orphan drugs and biosimilars and new research priorities are part of the European Commission's (EC) new pharma strategy, which also recognises the industry's ability to help drive the region's economy.

The EC's Pharmaceutical Industry: A Strategic Sector For The European Economy report describes the pharma industry as one of the “gems of European industry”, noting that the sector is “important for European public health, economic growth, trade and science”.

This importance can be seen in the numbers, with the EU pharma industry producing an output of €220bn during 2012, while employing around 800,000 people.

The EU was also the world's major trader in medicines in 2013, although this could change as the global spend on medicines is expected to grow to nearly $1.17trn by 2017 and other regions continue to increase in importance.

With this in mind, a suitable strategy is “essential for the EU to maintain its competitive edge”, according to the EC, which used the report to identify the main healthcare challenges for the region.

These challenges include well-worn concerns, such as high R&D costs, issues related to intellectual property and increased global competition, as well as growing public health threats, such as antimicrobial resistance and the rise of global warming and related injuries and illnesses.

The document is partly based on the experiences of the Process on Corporate Responsibility in the Area of Pharmaceuticals, an initiative to develop and maintain a favourable environment in the EU for healthcare companies.

Specific actions mentioned in the latest report include setting priorities with regards to the development of new therapies and fostering public-private co-operation to ensure long-term sustainability of the industry.

The EC is also looking to facilitate the availability of orphan drugs and biosimilars and to build on efforts to improve transparency and ethical behaviour.

In its response, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) said the strategy “positions the pharmaceutical industry at the heart of Europe's economic growth prospects”.

The trade body's director general Richard Bergström commented: “It is encouraging to see the European Commission's acknowledgement of the importance and value the pharmaceutical industry brings to not just the health and wellbeing of citizens but also the economic wellbeing of nations.

“This paper is a positive step towards establishing the industry's rightful position as a viable growth agent for Europe.”

EFPIA published its own thoughts on pharma's role in EU healthcare reform just last month, also calling on the industry to be at "the heart of European economic reform and growth".

The organisation used its Health & Growth – Working together for a healthy Europe report to call for deeper collaboration between industry, European institutions and governments and a new dialogue to deliver "improved health outcomes, within a sustainable financial framework and thriving healthcare and industrial ecosystem."

Following the publication of the EC's report, the Commission said it will organise an event in autumn 2014 to bring together decision makers across the EU to discuss potential policy decisions.

Article by
Thomas Meek

3rd July 2014

From: Research, Sales, Regulatory, Healthcare

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