Go back

Drug companies call for dedicated EU life sciences strategy

 Image: Morsa Images, via Getty Images

Industry association says European Commission should have its own life sciences office to boost coordination

The pharmaceutical industry has urged the European Commission to create a dedicated EU strategy for the life sciences and to reorganise its own departments to create a dedicated life sciences office.

These moves are needed to help Europe reclaim its position as a life sciences leader, with the continent having lost 25 per cent of its share of global R&D investment in the past two decades and the same proportion of its share of clinical trials over a single decade, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations said on 24 June.

Overseen by the proposed life sciences office, the strategy should encompass policies, investment and an improved manufacturing ecosystem, according to Efpia.

Need for coordination

“Europe’s life science ecosystem is facing intense pressure from the US and China, where more ambitious, dedicated strategies are driving growth,” Efpia warned.

It said that European biotechnology companies have access to only 20 per cent of the finance available to US competitors and struggle to attract talent, that intellectual property rights in Europe are being eroded and that regulations across the continent hamper innovation.

“The net impact makes it increasingly difficult to discover, develop and manufacture new medicines in Europe,” according to the pharmaceutical association.

Furthermore, responsibility for life sciences in the Commission spans multiple departments, and a “fragmented legislative environment is leading to contradictory and incoherent policies that negatively affect life science companies”.

A dedicated office in the Commission “could steer and coordinate policymaking” by providing strategic oversight, aligning policies, implementing a competitiveness check on legislation and optimising regulation to increase the speed of medicines approvals, Efpia suggested.

“This new approach should be based on partnership and collaboration between policymakers focusing on EU-wide issues, those in the member states and the wider life sciences industry,” it said.

Other recommendations

Efpia made several other recommendations for the content of the proposed strategy.

Europe needs a research and innovation ecosystem capable of transforming ideas into innovations, it said, which should include using EU funding to support clusters of biotechnology companies, increasing companies’ access to other funding sources and shoring up intellectual property protections.

Europe must also take steps to become a more attractive location for technology development, it said, by increasing its investment in skills, simplifying its clinical trial rules, promoting the use of health data in R&I and supporting manufacturing.

More overall investment in health systems is also needed, according to the association, along with increased resources for European medical regulators.

Efpia director-general Nathalie Moll said: “Despite the health and economic benefits of this sector being highly relevant for 500 million Europeans, it is often seen as an ‘add on’ to multiple EU departments, at times resulting in disjointed policies. Regaining Europe’s position as a world leader in medical science requires strategic and dedicated focus at EU level.”