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EFPIA: pharma must play key role in healthcare reform

Trade body publishes strategy to put industry at heart of economic growth
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European healthcare remains under intense pressure as austerity measures conflict with rising demand for services, but with economies stabilising the time is right to reform the system, according to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA).

The trade association goes even further in a just-published manifesto, however, suggesting that the pharma industry is positioned to be at "the heart of European economic reform and growth".

The strategy document - entitled Health & Growth – Working together for a healthy Europe - calls 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."

According to EFPIA's president and chief executive of Sanofi Chris Viehbacher: "only a significant improvement in health outcomes, supported by increased innovation, can keep healthcare expenditure under control."

The trade body wants the pharma and life sciences sectors to be thought of not just in terms of healthcare, but also as a pillar of the economic prosperity of the EU, for example by generating employment and contributing to a positive balance of trade.

It ties in with EFPIA's efforts to rebuild public trust in the pharma industry, improve its reputation among other healthcare stakeholders and restore the sector to one that is valued by society.

The strategy document maps out three paths which, if followed, might allow this goal to be achieved. The paths are predicated on pharma developing new partnerships with other stakeholders outside industry - an objective that has itself been hampered by the industry's poor reputation on issues such as clinical transparency.

Firstly, EFPIA wants to improve health outcomes and remove inequalities in Europe, for example through flexible and innovative approaches to medicine pricing. It also wants to develop a sustainable funding environment for healthcare that will bring new medicines to market more quickly, and a reduction in the volatility of spending policies across the EU.

Finally, the documents calls for the construction of a "thriving innovative life sciences sector to promote European competitiveness," via a coordinated, EU-wide R&D agenda.

EFPIA director general Richard Bergström told the trade body's conference last week that Europe still accounts for around a third of the global spend on medicines R&D - which is remaining fairly stable - although he cautioned that "we have to be on our toes all the time to keep that coming".

In the foreword of the new document, Bergström writes that Europe cannot take the future competitiveness of its pharmaceutical industry for granted, as its share of global R&D investment and the proportion of new medicines brought to market is at its lowest level ever.

"We must start thinking outside the box and ensure our industry is connected not just on debates about wellbeing, but also about jobs, growth and economic stability," he said.

"A new European life sciences strategy will be vital to achieving the objectives of Europe 2020 and beyond.

9th June 2014

From: Research, Sales, Regulatory, Healthcare

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