Championing the Patient Voice in TTIP

Dave Ricks.jpgToday's guest blog comes from Dave Ricks, Senior Vice President and President of Lilly Bio-Medicines

Negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) span many parts of the economy, including manufacturing, services and agriculture. Abolishing obstacles to trade will provide an all important boost to economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. The London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) suggests the EU's economy could benefit by €119 billion a year - equivalent to €545 for an average EU household - and the US' by €95 billion (around 130 billion USD) a year from a TTIP deal.

An ambitious agreement will also help reassert EU and US leadership in healthcare and medicines discovery. EU and US companies have developed the vast majority of medicines available today and employ over1.2 million people directly in the transatlantic economy. TTIP can help create new jobs and growth in our sector and beyond. It will not only benefit multinationals, but also small and medium sized firms, either through exporting directly or as suppliers to bigger companies. It's a win-win.

It is also an opportunity for the EU and US to agree on joint rules for our sector and for other industries that will ultimately become global standards and help maintain the competitiveness of companies based in the transatlantic economic area.

This week in Davos, Switzerland, I will be championing these points at a meeting of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). Established in 1995 by the US government and EU, the progressive TABD initiative brings together governments and business, including heads of leading American and European companies, to work towards a barrier-free transatlantic market that will contribute to growth, employment, discovery and sustainability in the global economy.

As co-chair of the initiative, I firmly believe in multiple potential benefits from eradicating barriers to not only trade, but also the ability to operate efficiently. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most highly regulated in the world. And rightly so. Arguably we deal in the most precious of commodities, life and wellbeing. It is only right that our discoveries receive thorough scrutiny and continuous checks to ensure they are doing what they are meant to - make life better for people around the world. But in order to allow new discoveries to flourish, we need to call out existing practices that simply don't make sense, or can be done more effectively or efficiently.

Decades of globalization have seen many amazing, positive developments for people across the world, but, as yet, it is a concept the pharmaceutical industry has been unable to fully embrace. Every day the industry faces diverse challenges and restrictions imposed at local, national and regional levels. As a consequence, patients across the world face a geographic healthcare lottery. This must be addressed, and TTIP is an opportunity to solve many current wrongs.

Like many multi-national companies, Lilly makes products for the whole world, and not just a single market. Facing a plethora of variable standards for intellectual property protection, regulation and market access simply hinders our ability to bring affordable, high-quality medicines to more of the world's population.

TTIP is one of our best opportunities to address these challenges. Specifically, there are three key areas that should be addressed:

Intellectual property rights

Developing a new medicine can take up to 15 years, and, on average, cost approximately €1 billion. It is suggested that only one in five approved medicines will ever recoup the total cost of investment, which makes it vitally important that intellectual property of medicines is deemed sacrosanct. This is far from the case across the world, and there is a lack of predictability, especially in Europe, over enforcement against breaches of protection.

Stronger intellectual property protection enshrined in the TTIP will allow for the continued fueling of the pharmaceutical research and development engine, benefitting future generations' health and wellbeing through the continuation of new discoveries.

Regulatory compatibility

As an industry. we are focused on how best to expedite patient access to new, innovative, life-saving medicines. Regulatory differences and duplicative requirements in the U.S. and EU can impede global drug development, review and evaluation. Addressing these issues head on will enhance efficiency, reduce redundant testing, and optimise the use of limited regulatory agency resources.

Also, we must ensure responsible data sharing that protects patient privacy, maintains the integrity of the regulatory review process, and preserves incentives for biomedical research. Modern data systems create unique challenges for data protection that should be addressed in any agreement.

Market access

Market access is critical for ensuring that patients rapidly gain access to new treatments, and allow the industry to maintain and grow direct and indirect employment. The TTIP is an opportunity to include provisions similar to those in the EU-Korea and US-Korea trade agreements, covering agreed principles for pricing and reimbursement.

At Lilly, we unite caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. The TTIP is certainly a vehicle that has the potential to enable us to amplify delivery upon our promise, and I look forward to flagging these opportunities again this week.