Saturday, July 13, 2024

EFPIA Calls for Competitiveness Strategy in EU Life Sciences

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At this critical moment of political change in Europe, EFPIA is asking EU leaders to collaborate with the industry to create opportunities for the region to regain its position as a world leader in life sciences. A Competitiveness Strategy for European Life Sciences and greater policy coherence would help Europe become a premier location for scientific research, skills development, and private investment. EFPIA calls for a dedicated office for life sciences within the European Commission to align the sector with the ambitions of European Heads of State and boost EU health resilience and strategic autonomy.

The EU is facing intense pressure for global medicines research investment. EFPIA’s annual Pharmaceutical Industry in Figures report highlights the rapid growth of countries like China and Korea, and the continued strength of the US. For the first time in 2023, China surpassed Europe in launching new active substances globally. Europe, which lost its top innovation region status to the US in 2000, now ranks third.

EFPIA proposes five recommendations to help Europe prioritize its life sciences ecosystem and secure EU competitiveness:EU Office for Life Sciences: A fragmented legislative environment leads to contradictory policies that negatively affect life science companies operating in Europe. Responsibility for life sciences sits with multiple European Commission Directorate-Generals (DGs) and policymakers at EU and Member State levels, creating significant obstacles.

A dedicated office could steer and coordinate policymaking to make Europe a world leader in science, innovation, and modern manufacturing. This office would create strategic oversight and leadership, align EU policies across Member States, and engage regularly with the industry. It would also develop comprehensive competitiveness checks on legislation impacting the sector, optimize regulation, promote faster approval timelines for R&D and manufacturing projects, and oversee the implementation of green and digital agendas.

Europe Needs a Life Sciences Strategy for Competitiveness

Transform Ideas into Innovation: Europe needs an ecosystem-based approach to compete with major US hubs like Boston and San Francisco. A European life science strategy should foster competitive biotech and pharmaceutical clusters, support and retain start-ups, and strengthen venture capital. It should ensure that EU framework programs foster partnerships with both large and small companies and reinforce internationally competitive Intellectual Property (IP) rights.

Globally Competitive Development: Europe must recruit and retain top talent and develop policies and infrastructure that attract basic research and clinical trials. Improving STEM education, addressing skills gaps, and strengthening the talent pool are essential. Europe should develop a harmonized, agile clinical trials ecosystem that supports multi-country trials and promotes the use of health data to fuel R&D and manufacturing of health technologies. Attracting investment in modern manufacturing requires supporting the Green Deal through a transition plan developed with industry and agile regulation.

Invest in Health: With an aging population, increased chronic disease burden, a shrinking workforce, and climate change impact, the EU must support Member States in enhancing healthcare systems. Recognizing health expenditure as a future investment, protecting health budgets, and supporting strategic funding for infrastructure upgrades, prevention, digitalization, and green practices are crucial. Facilitating the sharing of best practices among Member States can significantly improve and modernize healthcare systems.

Secure Resilient Global Biopharma: The strategy should ensure robust funding and resources for the EMA, enabling Europe to match ambitions for a future-proof regulatory framework proposed in the revision of General Pharmaceutical Legislation. Aligning with the US and other regulators can prevent delays to medicines access, ensuring EU companies grow and compete globally. Europe has lost 25% of its global R&D investment in 20 years, and its share of clinical trials has fallen by a quarter in the last decade. Trials for advanced therapies (ATMPs) are double or triple in the US and China. Europe must drive forward with clear direction and unity to reverse these trends and secure a healthier, more resilient future.

EFPIA Director General Nathalie Moll emphasizes the sector’s health and economic benefits for 500 million Europeans. She argues that regaining Europe’s position as a world leader in medical science requires strategic focus at the EU level. Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, EFPIA President and CEO of Novo Nordisk, highlights the EU’s opportunity to turn challenges into a virtuous circle for future health and prosperity. He calls for European policymakers to unite behind an ambitious vision for the life science sector’s competitiveness. Despite challenging geopolitical circumstances, the recommendations can guide the EU towards a more competitive, healthier, and stronger Europe.

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Resource: European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, June 24, 2024

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