The European Files is a political, economical and social magazine destined to European institutions. The magazine’s goal is to serve as a real work tool, helping in the decision-making process. Each file provides a global vision on specific subjects, dealt with at a European level, by regrouping industry, parliament and European government contributions.
March 2017 – n°46
Laurent Ulmann, Editor-in-chief, The European Files
Medicines of the Future:
How to Sustain Pharmaceutical Innovation and Improve Access and Affordability?
The future of healthcare in Europe depends on its sustainability and flexibility. The European Union (EU) is responsible to approach sustainability through a cost-effective framework that should minimize inequality within and across national boundaries. Flexibility is a consideration of accessibility for all patients, including those carrying rare diseases. In both these objectives, quality is key. Quality in vaccines and other medicines solutions requires months, if not years, of research and development (R&D) coupled with extended periods of rigorous testing. These could be considered barriers to innovation, though these costs ensure that only the very best products are released to patients. However as competition in the medicines R&D decreases, success rates in the deployment of medicines also declines. This means European patients are left with fewer medicines and generally higher costs. The European Commission is acutely aware of the need to redistribute these costs while continuing to motivate large amounts of investment in R&D. The solutions explored in this issue of The European Files maintain patient involvement in innovation as central to a more effective medicines development policy.
Many directives have been taken by the European Commission through the recommendation of a variety of stakeholders. In the case of patient involvement, the Innovative Medicines Initiative is proud to present several programs that have gained traction to provide patients with a respected voice in the R&D process. Programs such as EUPATI and PREFER aim to harness the opinions of patients and better satisfy their needs. These programs have already seen much success, as development of new medicines is deemed more patient-appropriate and transparent. However the road is long and there are still many governing bodies with medicines authorization that could increase their patient participation through these platforms. In addition, EU member states must consider alternative pathways to best approach the development of new medicines solutions. This may require new long-term cost evaluation frameworks that balance the burden and impact of developing a new medicine. The proper valuation and impact of a new medicines solution is a hotly contested issue when motivating new ways of financing. National healthcare providers must consider large up-front costs that simply cannot be maintained in less developed states. This inequality in access to new medicines should be smoothed through expanding collaboration across the EU and its member states. The steps steps taken to strengthen all national decision-makers position and enable them to negotiate better access to medicines.
The EU must balance pressures to improve public health as well as maintain a competitive and sustainable medicines industry. Through a refined focus, a pioneering Europe in healthcare is one that positions the patient as an equal member of medicines innovation. A breakthrough in healthcare necessitates this mindset and approach as this issue of The European Files suggests.