At Lilly, we are people united and inspired to make life better for individuals, communities and our world. We are determined to improve health and tackle the financial and social burdens of ill-health.
People drawn to a life of politics and public office often hold these very same values - a calling to make a difference. So, on that front, we hold common ground with the candidates up for election to the European Parliament in May. We believe greater strides can be achieved together.
Collaborating around a common focus to do good will allow us to deliver upon the full potential of our promise. Simply put, we need a political and regulatory framework that encourages the development of solutions to unmet health needs and increases Europe's global competitiveness in life sciences.
Lilly has had a significant presence in Europe since our first overseas subsidiary was established in the UK in 1934. Lilly has doubled annual R&D investments in Europe over the past 10 years to over €450 million and we now employ around 9,000 people across the region. As a company we have a vested interest in the outcome of the European Parliament elections. An interest not only born of a desire to safeguard positive outcomes for our European employees and the many others we employ indirectly in Europe, but also more widely in assuring future generations' health and wellbeing through allowing continuous investment and growth in pharmaceutical discovery.
Over the next 100 days leading up to the European elections we will be running a series of blogs aimed at the new parliamentary intake. In the series we will build the case for a more ambitious and integrated life science strategy in the EU that sets clear priorities for policy-makers, industry and others working in the healthcare sector. We believe this will not only deliver better health outcomes for European citizens, but also support financially sustainable healthcare systems, and achieve economic growth in Europe.
The strategy should be based on three interdependent principles of health and growth: making life better for people, responsible funding for healthcare, and fostering a thriving eco-system that allows continuous medical discovery to flourish. These echo the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) 3 pillars for Health & Growth - click here to access.
Europe has seen huge leaps forward in improving life expectancy and overall health over the last 50 years, but major inequalities persist.
Discovery is at the heart of what we do at Lilly. To meet Europe's societal challenges of today and tomorrow - notably ageing populations and unmet needs in the management of chronic and degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's - we need to continue to discover. For example, at Lilly, our vision is to collaborate with others to help make Alzheimer's dementia preventable by 2025, a key pledge outcome from last year's G8 dementia summit.
Appropriate use of medicines is a critical tool for sustainable healthcare financing in Europe, but access and predictability of funding has to be improved.
Market access is critical for ensuring that patients rapidly gain access to new treatments. Swift market access also helps companies sustain employment and continue discovery by providing a more rapid return on investment in research and development. Today's challenges require a stable and predictable competitive environment in which discovery can flourish. It would be a grave mistake to sacrifice the long-term benefits of medicine to meet immediate budget pressures.
The research-based pharmaceutical industry continuously invests in R&D, but Europe is losing its competitiveness in the fight for R&D investments.
Members of the European pharmaceutical association, EFPIA, spend €27.5bn per year on R&D in Europe. This investment provides 660,000 direct jobs and generates an EU balance surplus of €48.3 billion. The biopharmaceutical sector is by far EU's most R&D intensive industry.
Despite this investment, Europe has adopted policies that undermine innovation, including burdensome assessment processes that make it difficult to obtain market access and adequate reimbursement for new medicines. While the value of medicines should be demonstrated, the process needs to be fair and take a holistic view of the value a medicine can bring to patients and the healthcare system.
The right incentives must be in place for investment and discovery to continue, and to allow for the next generation of biomedical discovery. As such, an EU life sciences strategy should be the cornerstone of any future EU industrial policy. In particular, Europe should ensure it has the most advanced intellectual property safeguards in place. 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. Sadly 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.
For the sake of future generations' health and wellbeing this must be urgently addressed.
Check out our #EP2014 blogs over the coming weeks to read more on our health and growth crusade, and interact with our campaign via Twitter @LillyPadEU.