Securing and strengthening Europe's position as leader in life sciences for the benefit of patients across the world

Since the beginning of 2020, the world has experienced an unprecedented health crisis. In the early stages of pandemic our only defense was extreme lockdown measures to protect citizens from the spread of the virus. Very quickly attention turned to the life science community to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and mitigate the human, economic and social harm that COVID-19 had caused world-wide.

The research-based pharmaceutical industry responded to this crisis at an extraordinary pace, developing safe and effective vaccines in an incredibly short time-frame. The response underlined the need for a strong pharmaceutical sector, able to mobilize rapidly to address new and existing health challenges, delivering for patients, health systems and society as whole.

The experience demonstrated that, despite innovation requiring substantial investment and carrying significant uncertainty, an open, cross functional approach, utilizing research clusters and dynamic Public-Private Partnerships is a key factor to accelerate innovation. When public authorities provide a pro-innovation policy framework, it emerges even faster.

The response to the crisis has shown that in a global world, there are continuous interdependencies between countries. Then open-boarders, flexibility and diversification are required to reduce reliance on a single region increasing global resilience. At the same time, to ensure European excellence in the health sector we must support existing research and manufacturing facilities. We need to identify those strategic elements from the value chain that should be preserved and sustained in Europe and create the right conditions to allow further development of existing research and production capacities.

Among the most significant driver of innovation, creating access to a new generation of treatments and vaccines is a strong and predictable Intellectual Property (IP) framework. Intellectual Property (IP) is a cornerstone upon which biopharmaceutical innovation and modern medicine are built. The research and development (R&D) of biopharmaceutical products is a costly and uncertain process as many medicines are complex biotechnology products. What IP protections provide is incentives for companies to engage in the R&D, strengthen the global economy and facilitate access to new medicines.

Moreover, to reinforce its competitiveness on the global scene, Europe needs a stable, fast and effective regulatory framework. It has to continually evolve, adopting advances in technology, utilizing real world evidence and data analytics in a dynamic and iterative decision-making process.

Finally, Europe must be able to rely on the necessary capacities to anticipate and quickly respond to emerging health needs, including through the establishment of the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), provided that it can count on enough resources to achieve its missions.
Strengthening the position of Europe as a world leader in life sciences is a critical goal for all the EFPIA members. It requires step-by-step development, an ambitious industrial policy and a long-term vision for a healthier, more resilient, more prosperous Europe.
This major crisis has seen industry, the European Commission and Member States work together to ensure that citizens across Europe and around the world are protected from COVID-19. We believe that, collectively, we will be able to tackle the most pressing health issues affecting patients today and discover new ways to continually improve their lives. This is the mission and purpose of EFPIA's member healthcare companies: We Won't Rest! 

Olivier Laureau

Olivier Laureau is President of Servier and he acts as Second Vice President of EFPIA.
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