New pharma boss: Next EU Commission should be clear on how to protect innovation

The next EU Commission should take a stronger position on innovation in the pharma sector, the new leader of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) told in an interview.

“It will be important for the next European Commission to make an official statement on how they feel about innovation and how they want to protect and develop innovation,” Jean-Christophe Tellier, the newly elected President of EFPIA and CEO of biopharmaceutical company UCB, told EURACTIV.

He added that it is equally important to put in place frameworks to facilitate access to innovation. “We’ve noticed that EU countries are delaying the ability to put innovations on the market due a very long process of pricing, but the deadline of the patent is always the same,” he said.

“Protecting Intellectual Property rights (IPs) is very important for us considering that they are the best way to protect innovation and ensure best outcomes for the patients,” he said.

The addition of a manufacturing waiver to supplementary protection certificates (SPC) also limits innovation, he said.

“The pressure on the IP, the expiry date of the patent is the same and with the SPC waiver, the hit is even harder, we are facing additional hurdles that delay the moment where we can get the benefit for the innovation,” he said.

“If we can prevent more diseases, even stop the progression of chronic diseases, it is thanks to innovation,” he added.

“IPs and innovations are very well connected together. The question is, what is the fair balance between this protection and the ability to stimulate innovation.”

The top priority for EFPIA in the next two years will be to break through the silos and bring healthcare stakeholders together to achieve better outcomes for patients, the new EFPIA boss said.

“The focus of the next two years will be on connecting healthcare by aligning the different stakeholders into creating the best possible outcome for patients,” Tellier said.

“Today, the system is too much fragmented and it’s not so easy for the different stakeholders, from physicians to health systems and payers, to engage. But we cannot win without each other because the reality is that we are interdependent on each other,” the pharma boss added.

He cited as an example, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a European initiative focused on pharmaceutical research.

“Different stakeholders put their efforts together into what is today the most important public-private partnership in the world, with more than €5.3 billion in investment.”

He said the IMI, which connects databases across different countries in Europe has accelerated research. “I do feel that the current fragmentation and the vertical expertise, the way it’s structured today, will be challenged by affordability, and then we will be able to better work together.”

He said the pharmaceutical industry represents 20% of the total cost investments and one should look at the wider picture: “We need to find out the best way to allocate the resources to avoid waste of investment, and progress into a better usage of investments.”

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