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Open letter to Members of the European Parliament in response to European Parliament resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences (2020/2616(RSP))

Dear Members of the European Parliament, 

EFPIA, its Member Companies and Associations join the Members of the European Parliament in expressing our deepest sorrow at the loss of lives and the human tragedy that the pandemic has brought to Europeans and in recognising all those [heroes] that stand in the frontline fighting the pandemic.
 
Our industry is committed to working collaboratively across the research and healthcare communities, utilising our world-leading science, people and resources to tackle the outbreak. At this time of public health crisis, our commitment to the fight has been made publicly available in the European research-based pharmaceutical industry’s commitment to tackling COVID-19. We focus on ensuring the safe supply of medicines to the patients who need them, researching and developing new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for use in the fight against COVID-19 as well as partnering and supporting organisations on the ground to fight against COVID-19.
 
Our industry is working round the clock to find diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. That means rapidly screening our vast global libraries of medicines to identify potential treatments and continuing to initiate numerous clinical trials to test new and existing therapies as well as vaccines. It means bringing together the best scientists from industry and academia through the Innovative Medicines Initiative to accelerate the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. It means sharing the learnings from clinical trials, in real time, with governments and other companies to advance the development of new therapies and vaccines.
 
Discovering and developing these tools for this, and for future health threats requires a dynamic and well resourced EU research infrastructure.  We support the resolution’s call for the establishment of additional funding for a ‘COVID-19 research and innovation (R&I) fund’, the call for Member States to significantly increase support for research, development and innovation programmes aimed at understanding the disease, speeding up diagnosis and testing, and developing a vaccine as well as the recognition that Europe’s researchers, innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industry should get every support they need to find a cure.
 
And when new treatments or vaccines begin to emerge, we will expand our manufacturing capabilities, sharing available capacity to ramp up production as well as work with governments and health systems to ensure they are available and affordable.
 
Tackling a global pandemic requires solidarity, partnership and collaboration, we support the resolution’s call to keep borders open for the movement of essential goods. Export bans and restrictions as well as requisitioning of medicines continue to exist across the EU, in countries. Such measures are particularly challenging for companies that have their multi-country distribution warehouses in such countries, from which they serve all of Europe, or even parts of Africa. We understand each Member State’s desire to ensure the availability of necessary medicines for their population. However, the supply chain is designed to work across borders.

No one country can meet all its needs on its own, and through restrictions, countries risk isolating themselves and their citizens from the global supply network. The consequences of export bans and equivalent measures are directly detrimental to the availability of medicines for patients across the EU and globally, as well as risking retaliatory measures from other regions that could impact timely availability of medicines for European patients.

Coordination is key, we support the resolution’s call for greater powers for the EU to act in the case of cross-border health threats, strengthening the competences, budget and staff of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to enable them to coordinate medical responses in times of crisis.


Beyond the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on citizens’ health, we recognise the economic impact of the crisis acknowledged in the resolution. Employing around 700,000 people across Europe and contributing around €35 billion to research and development in Europe each year, our industry stands ready to play its role in Europe’s economic recovery.

As an industry, we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with citizens, patients, health systems, Member States and the EU Institutions in tackling the COVID-19 emergency and #WeWontRest until, together we win the fight against this pandemic.
 
Yours sincerely, 
Nathalie Moll
Director General
EFPIA
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