Last week, citizens across the European Union (EU) voted for their Members of the European Parliament (MEP). The 751 MEPS from 28 countries will help shape Europe over the coming 5 years.
The backdrop to the work of the new Parliament, from a health perspective, is an ageing European population and the challenges of posed by chronic and degenerative diseases. In order to meet these challenges, Europe needs to encourage research and development by providing the right incentives for investment and creating the right framework for innovation to flourish.
As a global company committed to innovation with a significant footprint in Europe, with over 9,000 employees in the region and investments of €450 million, we welcome a Parliament committed to ensuring that Europe remains at the forefront of drug discovery and that patients benefit from these medical advance. MEPs can play a crucial role in this by supporting measures which foster research and development, provide a coherent regulatory structure, and move forward with ground-breaking agreements, such as the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
In order to support R&D in Europe and, at the same time hasten the economic recovery, the EU needs to establish a biopharmaceutical Life Sciences Strategy, built around three pillars:
- Making Life Better: Despite medical advancements, Europe still suffers from the burden of chronic and degenerative diseases. For instance, by 2025, 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over and at risk of developing signs of Alzheimer’s. Lilly is at the forefront of dementia research in particular with regard to Alzheimer’s disease. However political action is urgently needed to ensure progressive regulatory and reimbursement systems recognize the advancing science in combatting Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
- Funding Responsible Health Care: The Parliament can ensure patients gain access to new medicines by improving the regulatory framework. With the development of new medicines costing upwards of €1 billion, the biopharmaceutical industry needs the recuperation of cost to allow for future innovation investments. A stable and predictable system helps to guarantee that patients receive the healthcare they need.
- Allowing Discovery to Flourish: The biopharmaceutical sector remains the EU’s most R&D intensive industry, but maintaining competitiveness is crucial. By setting and enforcing high standards for intellectual property, the EU will gain an edge in discovery and innovation in the life sciences, allowing society to benefit from medical advancements. A consistently competitive environment will allow discovery to flourish and patients to benefit from the resulting medical innovations.
All three parts of the strategy contribute to the potential for people to live longer, healthier and more active lives. These three parts form the cornerstone for the possibility for Europe to lead the world in advancing the life sciences. Strong collaboration and engagement by the Parliament is vital to achieving this goal.