Three thoughts from SPIEF 2018
For the first time, EFPIA attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), now in its 22nd year, with over 15.000 participants and with a wide range of workshops, stands & booths, plenary and break-out sessions. It was an excellent event with many opportunities to share perspectives, talk with Russian government representatives, as well as with colleagues from across the pharmaceutical industry. A warm thanks to AIPM for the great organization during the SPIEF event. Having returned to Brussels, we would like to share three thoughts that occurred to us in discussions during the forum; the importance of multilateral trading agreements, the alignment between Russia’s healthcare and life-science investment policies and the potential for growth through the exchange of best practice.
The first pertains to the plenary session with President Putin of Russia, Managing Director Lagarde of the IMF, President Macron of France, Prime Minister Abe of Japan and Vice-President Qishan of China. Apart from Mrs. Lagarde’s wonderful comment of feeling like Elizabeth Taylor’s fifth husband when she was regrettably left last in line to talk, we noted that whether listening to Mr. Putin on his vision for Russia, Mr. Macron highlighting concerns on the Iran deal, Mrs. Lagarde focusing on possible clouds on an otherwise sunny global economic sky, Mr Abe’s clear display of friendship with Mr. Putin highlighting his 21st meeting between the two, and Mr. Qishan showing unity on moving with Russia – all expressed concern with respect to the disregard for the multilateral trading system and international order and the many risks this brings and vacuums of power it creates.
Russia is currently drafting its Pharma 2030 strategy on healthcare. It represents an opportunity for all pharmaceutical stakeholders to work together to see how they can deliver meaningful support to Russia in executing the strategy to the benefit of patients. President Putin mentioned how important Intellectual Property protection is and his objective of increasing life expectancy by increasing the investment in healthcare systems. Yet, we also heard concerning comments from officials either on the lack of need for any improvements or on the perception that doctors don’t have a big enough role to play in healthcare systems. Policy unpredictability, linked to both global factors such as sanctions and domestic ones such as fragmented responsibilities and contradicting mandates between government stakeholders, puts incentives for long-term investments needed to set-up successful pharmaceutical R&D and production facilities at risk.
Finally, any country, including one as big as Russia, has a lot to gain by exchanging best practices with other markets and obtaining crucial information on what policies have already proven to work and which ones have not. There is often a big difference between how policies are expected to work and how they turn out to work in practice. There is no reason for the new Russian government to re-invent the wheel and we think that providing global platforms to exchange best practices and global research input are ways in which EFPIA, in close cooperation with AIPM and sister associations, can support Russia in its quest to become more innovative in practice and develop an innovative healthcare system for the years to come.
SPIEF was a moment of positive energy and we really hope that we’ll see these opportunities and positive words materialise in practice in the coming weeks, months and years.