In recent months, US and European politicians have been trading public statements on financial support to retain, sustain and grow their high-tech industries. We welcome the European Commission’s efforts to support “clean tech industries” through the Green Deal. For our part, the research-based biopharmaceutical industry continues to be CO2 neutral as part of our commitment to the green transition. However, the current strategic debate should be linked to the development of a competitive policy framework that will support future medical innovation, drive sustainable healthcare and meet the needs of patients across Europe.
Despite all the medical advances, many people in Europe living with a disease still have vastly underserved medical needs – yet innovation is constrained by regulators rather than encouraged. Patients desperately await answers to challenges such as antimicrobial resistance, depression and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and many orphan diseases. Finding these answers is the purpose of our industry.
Soon, the European Commission will publish its proposals for the revision of the EU’s pharmaceutical legislative framework. The so-called ‘pharma package’ will have a significant and long-term impact on a sector that was the leading driver of the EU trade surplus in 2021, contributing €136 billion. Pharmaceutical companies employ 840,000 people across Europe and reinvest a larger percentage of their revenue into European research and development than any other high-tech sector.
Critically, this goes beyond economics; For example, the weakness of intellectual property will drive the development of innovative treatments in other regions of the world, making it more difficult for Europeans to participate in new clinical trials and gain access to the latest advances in care.
As heads of state and government gather this week for a special summit, they have a strategic choice: a richly innovative, research-driven biopharmaceutical ecosystem that supports early access to innovation for patients with world-leading medical science, economic prosperity and European jobs. ; Or death by degrees: the progressive loss of healthcare, investment and talent, lured across the Atlantic or in the Asia-Pacific region by the promise of a vision, ambition and policy framework that will drive rather than stifle medical innovation.
With proven, resilient supply chains, innovative medicines have avoided the shortages we’ve seen across Europe in recent weeks. However, accelerating losses in cutting-edge research, development and manufacturing will make Europe more dependent on innovation from other regions in the future.
It is important not to underestimate both the impact and speed of change. In the 1990s, half of all new treatments originated in Europe, that number is now just one in five. Clinical trials for cutting-edge treatments such as personalized cell, gene and tissue therapies, considered the future of medicine, are now twice as many in the United States and nearly three times as many in China as in Europe.
President Ursula von der Leyen recently said in Davos: “We see aggressive efforts to attract our industrial capacity to China or elsewhere. And we know that future investment decisions will depend on what we do today.” We should expect that this realization will play a role in the upcoming pharmaceutical legislation. An early draft of the proposal, available in the public domain, would harm rather than enhance the industry’s competitiveness in Europe and severely limit member states’ ambitions to attract life science investment.
French President Emmanuel Macron said“The European Awakening” On global competition. The EU indeed holds the key to unlocking the economic potential of its strategically important health, innovation and largest high-tech industries. It has the ability to block critical investment flows to other regions of the world. If the EU gets it right, the research-based pharmaceutical industry will be uniquely placed to help deliver more innovation for patients and a healthier future for Europe.