Making Life Better Through Biotech

 Today’s guest post is written by Jeremy Morgan, Vice President, Diabetes, Lilly. Earlier this year Jeremy Morgan was appointed to the Board of The European Association for Bio-Industries (EuropaBio). 

This week, people across Europe will join together to celebrate European Biotech Week.  Last year, we recognised the value of biotechnological innovation and advancements by commemorating the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA molecule. The discovery was a truly pivotal moment in history. It triggered remarkable discoveries across biotechnology based industries, including my own: health care.

Lilly had already taken strides into the treatment of diabetes as far back as the early 1920’s. Back then a diagnosis of diabetes could not be survived. The discovery of insulin, quickly followed by the ability to stabilize it on a commercial level to provide the first effective treatments, led to millions of lives saved by the use of animal insulin. In 1982 Lilly brought the first biotech medicine to market, created from rDNA technology and designed to give people with diabetes a longer, healthier life.

In short, ninety years of innovation and discovery has led to diabetes becoming a manageable disease. 

While we have made a lot of progress, we still have a long way to go. Today, an estimated 382 million people worldwide have diabetes and the economic cost is staggering: 9.3% of the total health budget in the EU is spent on diabetes. By 2035, more than 592 million people are projected to be affected by diabetes.  Biotechnology is no stranger to healthcare, but it is only recently that its full potential has been better understood.

Biotech is thriving in health care research and development, if not tangibly driving it. Advances are either being made or soon will be in oncology, auto-immune and Alzheimer’s disease to name but a few. Our pipeline at Lilly is rich with biotech potential. Discovery and manufacture of future bio-pharmaceutical medicines is a rewarding but often frustrating business. It is high cost and high risk; many potential medicines fail before they reach the people who need better treatments. But we know this. What can we do to ensure medicines are available to patients in Europe? Investment is one way.

In Europe, we continue to make important investments - doubling our R&D investment to €450 Million in the last 10 years, and investing €1.2 Billion in our biotech manufacturing sites in France, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland.  We are doing everything we can to make a meaningful difference.  Ultimately, making life better for people around the world through biotechnology and pharmaceutical innovation requires multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Together we must ensure strong IP standards, foster public-private partnerships, encourage trade and continued investment in R&D and manufacturing, provide jobs for a highly skilled workforce, and importantly speed access to new medicines. By working with EuropaBio and to ensure a strong Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, we continue to prioritise and develop these areas.

No matter how you view it, biotechnology helps improve the health care environment in Europe. The societal benefits are clear. Supporting biotechnology is an important pathway for continued innovation and discovery. I look forward to celebrating European Biotech Week. Join me. Follow the #biotech4life conversation on Twitter and return for more on LillyPad EU.