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EFPIA head rallies EU troops

Europe needs more pharmaceutical innovation but pharma companies in the region are not being sufficiently rewarded for their efforts to achieve it

Europe needs more pharmaceutical innovation but pharma companies in the region are not being sufficiently rewarded for their efforts to achieve it - this is the message from the European pharma industry's representative body.

At the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association's (EFPIA) meeting in Brussels, pharma executives welcomed European industry commissioner G¸nter Verheugen's outline of a strategy to improve the industry's competitiveness, but warned that European governments have become ìtoo comfortable and complacentî, and have failed to recognise health as an investment, rather than a cost.

In his speech, Commissioner Verheugen announced a Ä2.6bn financial incentive scheme to support small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start ups, which account for much of the European biopharmaceutical sector.

ìEurope has reached a major turning point concerning the future of the pharmaceutical sector in Europe,î he told the meeting. ìThis sectorÖ is increasingly under threat. Europe must decide whether we want to continue to be a leading player in pharmaceutical innovation or whether we simply step aside and let others take over this job.î He added: ìI have no intention of stepping aside.î

Reaction - Humer

EFPIA president, Franz Humer, welcomed the call for innovation, saying that a strong industry would not only benefit the health of Europeans but also improve their lives through job and wealth creation.

However, he criticised the German jumbo reference pricing groups which link the prices of innovative patented drugs to older generic medicines, and called for EU countries to move towards price liberalisation and full competition for non-reimbursed medicines. He also claimed that European post-marketing authorisation delays were slowing down access to medicines.

ìEurope needs more innovation in this strategic sector,î said Humer. ìIn the interests of patients, it is our task to fight against short-sighted, misguided or ill-conceived policies and to argue for adequate reward, sustainable funding, patient choice and health policies based on sound science and evidence-based medical judgement, rather than on a silo-budget mentality.î

The European Commission has also proposed to increase R&D spending by up to Ä73.2bn. According to Commissioner Verheugen, life sciences and biotechnology will benefit significantly from the planned increase.

ìThe proposals to increase funding are encouraging,î said AstraZeneca CEO Tom McKillop. ìBut it's worth pointing out that the US spends five times more than Europe's average GDP on R&D.î

He also said he was concerned that the plan would be bogged down by ìtypical Europeanî regulation.

30th September 2008

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