The route out from under the cloud of coronavirus
As Members of the European Council meet to discuss the on-going COVID-19 crisis including the Roadmap for Recovery: Towards a more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe, our industry remains committed to working collaboratively across the research and healthcare communities, utilising our world-leading science, people and resources to tackle the pandemic, as well as play a key role in in Europe’s economic recovery.
Throughout the crisis we have stood shoulder to shoulder with citizens, the EU institutions and Member States working day and night to research and develop new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for patients in the fight against COVID-19, donating millions in financial and in-kind support to organisations on the front-line and working with the Commission, the European Medicines Agency and Member States to ensure that patients get the medicines they need. We are committed to taking the same collaborative approach to delivering on Europe’s recovery plan in the spirit of unity and solidarity.
We recognise the need for strategic autonomy of the EU through a dynamic industrial policy referenced in the Roadmap for Recovery. In EU Industrial and Pharmaceutical Strategy: An Opportunity to Drive Europe’s Health and Growth (10 March 2020) we outlined key areas that can help Europe achieve this aim, including maintaining a world-class system for the approval of medicines, better innovation policies to enable Europe to lead in R&D, a digital Europe to help support patients in their healthcare journey, a smart trade agenda that supports EU competitiveness and access as well as policies to preserve the environment. In the context of COVID-19, there are 42 potential vaccines in development and around 30 treatments being explored for use against the virus. A pool of potential treatments that exist because of the strong and stable innovation policies that drove their creation and development.
It is critical that we collectively and collaboratively learn the lessons from this devastating pandemic. The Roadmap underlines the importance of invest[ing] in strategic value chains and to reduce over-dependency on third countries in these areas. The sobering reality, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, is that Europe has lost its place as the world’s leading driver of medical innovation. Today, 47% of global new treatments are of US origin compared to just 25% emanating from Europe (2014-2018). It represents a complete reversal of the situation just 25 years ago.
We need to extend the solidarity, partnership and collaboration forged in the fire of the COVID crisis, to an urgent, high-level strategic dialogue on Europe’s research eco-system as well as an evidenced-based discussion on continuing to ensure the supply of medicines to patients across Europe. The ability to respond to health threats cannot be built overnight or simply switched off and on when needed. It requires long-term development of skills, networks, health-data infrastructure, investment, regulatory and IP policies that support the kind of medical innovation needed to address crises like COVID-19 and our numerous on-going health challenges. We call on Member States to consider the future MFF as a key instrument in supporting Europe’s research eco-system as part of the economic recovery and to work with industry and the EU institutions to ensure that the forthcoming Pharmaceutical Strategy reflects the lessons learned during this pandemic crisis.
The research-based pharmaceutical industry in Europe can play a key role in the region’s road to recovery. First of all by developing and manufacturing, at pace and scale, affordable treatments and vaccines that will ultimately provide a route out from under the shadow of the coronavirus, as well as by providing tools to build Europe’s resilience against future outbreaks. In addition, the industry continues to invest an estimated € 36,500 million in R&D in Europe every year. It directly employs some 765,000 people in Europe and according to a report released by PwC in June 2019, supports around 2.7 million jobs in the EU. The same report highlighted that the activities of pharmaceutical companies contributed over € 100 billion directly to the EU economy, with an additional € 106 billion provided through the supply chain and employee spending.
As an industry we are committed to playing our part in the road to a more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe.
 Pharmaprojects & SCRIP, March 2019