Saturday, July 13, 2024

Urgent Action on Cardiovascular Health Needed

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The European Union (EU) faces a crucial opportunity to address cardiovascular disease (CVD) while enhancing competitiveness in the life sciences sector. The High-Level Conference on Cardiovascular Health, organized by the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, marks a significant step forward. Taking place today in Budapest (4 July), the event aims to lay the groundwork for Council Conclusions later this year.

The urgency of tackling CVD cannot be overstated. As the leading cause of death in the EU, CVD significantly impacts health, quality of life, productivity, and economic stability. In 2021, heart conditions cost the EU economy 2% of its GDP. Despite advancements, the progress in improving cardiovascular disease outcomes has stalled. Many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with effective measures, yet stress on healthcare systems continues to grow.

Cardiovascular Need for Updated National Plans

Most EU Member States lack current cardiovascular health plans. This gap presents an opportunity to revitalize policies in this essential area. European cooperation can standardize high-quality care, implement evidence-based policies, and set achievable targets. National plans should address healthcare system deficiencies, supported by dedicated budgets and innovation through public-private partnerships.

Future Council Conclusions and CVH plans must prioritize innovation. Advances in diagnostics, prevention, and treatment have historically improved outcomes, but progress has stagnated. Europe must rekindle clinical research and drug approvals through a system of incentives that reward results, considering surrogate endpoints, patient-reported outcomes, and quality of life indicators to drive the next wave of innovation.

Investment in Research and Skilled Labor

The success of future CVH plans hinges on science-based policies paired with investments in research, prevention, and treatment pathways. Better access to data, skilled labor, and capital are crucial in this field. A robust Competitiveness Strategy for European Life Sciences, spearheaded by an Office for Life Sciences, should lead these efforts, ensuring strategic leadership and policy coordination.

Healthy populations are fundamental to healthy economies. Investment in health, particularly in combating chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, should be a central component of the Competitiveness Strategy for European Life Sciences. The new European Commission must prioritize this strategy, addressing the innovation ecosystem from basic science to clinical trials, regulatory frameworks, manufacturing, and supply chains. Ensuring equal access to innovative treatments for all patients is essential.


Regaining Global Leadership

A comprehensive strategy will help Europe regain its leadership in biopharmaceutical research and development, including for cardiovascular disease. Over the past two decades, Europe’s share of global R&D investments has decreased by 25%. A renewed focus on innovation and investment is vital for reversing this trend.

Delivering on this ambitious vision is essential for creating a healthier Europe with improved CVD outcomes and continued economic growth. The High-Level Conference in Budapest is a promising start in the right direction.

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Resource: European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, July 04, 2024

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