A Dialogue on German Innovation

Today’s Guest Blog comes from Simone Thomsen, General Manager of Lilly Germany, who also took part in the panel discussion described below.

Germany plays a large and important role for global pharmaceutical innovation and production. Having seen firsthand how innovation can make a difference in worldwide health outcomes, I firmly believe that such progress cannot be taken for granted and must instead be actively pursued and promoted. This was recently highlighted when we at Lilly Germany hosted an event centered around the future of innovation in our home state of Hesse. With cooperation from the VFA (the German national pharmaceutical association) and the IG BCE trade union (the Chemical Industry Trade Union), we were able to engage in a broad dialogue with government and political figures concerning support for future excellence in innovation, as well as planning the market entry of new innovative drugs during the next legislative term.

The Hessian Minister of Economics, Tarek Al-Wazir, addressed the audience and explained that there will always be conflicts between innovation and regulation, and it is therefore the role of politics to serve as a medium for communication between the two.  Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years, I agree that communication and dialogue are essential because the healthcare sector has long been a vital pillar of growth in the Hessian economy and it continues to be so today. The latest estimates show that 90,000 people are directly employed by the industry, adding approximately €10 billion in value to the local economy. In order for there to be consistent and stable progress, innovation must continue to be a driving force in the healthcare field. This means that, if a stable business environment is to exist, regulation must remain clear, transparent, and constant. When a healthy balance of regulation and innovation is found, then the public benefits from better healthcare.

It is important to emphasize the critical value of a continuous high-level political dialogue with the pharmaceutical industry in creating such a balance. A panel discussion, that included Brigit Fischer (VFA), Volker Weber (IG BCE Hessen), and two members of parliament- Michael Meister (CDU) and Edgar Franke (SPD)- was moderated by the editor of the Rhein-Main-Zeitung, Thorsten Winter. Both MPs made it clear that the Bundestag expects to be more involved in the pharmaceutical dialogue during the next legislative session. As secretary of state in the federal ministry of finance, Michael Meister shared that he expects tax funded research to be introduced in the upcoming period. It was also determined that economic, research, and health policy will become more closely intertwined in future decision making. This will require greater inclusion of universities, research institutions, and clinics in the innovation process so that their findings can offer data as background for important discussions. 

Innovation is the central mechanism that brings increasingly effective therapies and treatments to patients. By helping to develop an exchange of views between policymakers and other stakeholders, I am proud to say that we at Lilly are contributing to a stronger corporate and political environment. This environment underpins the role we all play in ensuring that the pace of German pharmaceutical advancement is not allowed to stagnate and that everyone has access to the best medical therapies available. 


Lilly Germany hosted an event centered around the future of innovation.