SPECIAL REPORT / While the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly voicing concern about EU regulation ‘damaging’ its growth potential, the industry should focus on convincing member states of its strengths instead of Brussels, the Commission says.
Europe’s pharmaceutical industry employs around 700,000 people and stands for 17% of Europe’s investments in research and development. At the moment, the industry represents 10% of the EU’s GDP and is working to deliver on the EU’s 20% industrial GDP target. But the goal can only be reached if the EU makes it a priority to keep a sustainable environment for the industry, representatives stated at the European Business Summit 2014 on Thursday (15 May).
Speaking at the summit, director general for the Commission’s Health unit (DG SANCO), Paola Testori Coggi, said that the Commission has made excellent proposals for new regulation for the industry when it comes to clinical trials, biosimilars and personalised medicines, but that the proposals are sometimes watered down by the Council and member states.
Health ministers, Testori Coggi said, often have a weak voice in a government. Though the Commission will have more country-specific recommendations on health this year for member states than ever before, most ministers are only looking to reduce healthcare costs, though they always state that health is an investment.
Therefore, the director general told the pharmaceutical industry to encourage member states to better implement the common EU rules.
“Use your lobby capacity to effect your governments,” Testori Coggi told industry representatives.
She added that as the Commission is a technical body, and the Parliament and Council are political bodies, the cooperation will not be improved with a new Commission.
“It will become worse. The Parliament and Council have blocked many Commission proposals. With the next Parliament, it will only be worse,” Testori Coggi stated.
Short-term measures ‘threaten’ industry
Ron Cooper, member of the European Federal Pharmaceutical Industry Association’s (EFPIA) Executive Committee, stated that the industry has helped EU citizens live longer lives, but in order to also keep making them live longer and healthier lives, member states need to have a fully integrated and sustainable healthcare approach. He mentioned that for medicines, patients in one member state only need to wait one day while others can expect to wait for years.
Nick Haggar, president of the European Generic Medicines Association, added that medicines are a strength in Europe and that the pharmaceutical industry has a fundamental role to play as it’s present in almost every EU member state.
“Short-term measures threaten the industry. The industry is a source of jobs and knowledge. Complex medicines should be embraced. They improve the quality of lives and reduce costs,” Haggar said.
“It’s clear that we want accessible medicines and new treatments,” Testori Coggi said. “We want innovation and jobs in Europe and the pharmaceutical industry has a crucial role to play.”
The European Business Summit 2014 took place Wednesday and Thursday (14-15 May) in Brussels and gathered business leaders, who will seek to present their priorities - looking beyond the crisis and towards a more competitive and better-functioning Europe.
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