Recent crises have highlighted the crucial need for Europe to secure and strengthen its position as a leader in medical innovation. As the European Commission works on the next pharmaceutical strategy, we need to ensure that Europe has the right environment to bring the next generation of treatments to patients. The challenge for the coming decades is not whether medical innovation will happen, but where it will happen. This article is part of a series explaining that where innovation happens matters to patients, healthcare systems, the research community, jobs and the economy.
Over the past two years, the world has faced a major health crisis, requiring an “everyone on deck” approach from the research-based pharmaceutical industry. Not only were vaccines and treatments developed and produced in an incredibly short timeframe, but we also continued to ensure that every patient around the world received the treatment they needed.
The pandemic has brought to light two undeniable truths: first, medicines are strategic assets and, second, research must be done in partnership with all stakeholders. Alongside the challenges of maintaining the competitiveness of our production facilities and ensuring predictable market access conditions, meeting the challenge of innovation is a prerequisite for ensuring the resilience of healthcare in Europe.
In the years to come, Europe will face a research challenge if it does not ensure that the life sciences ecosystem remains strong. At Servier, we decided to focus on Europe when the company was created in France in 1954. Today, 98% of the active ingredients in our medicines are produced in Europe, where we have 12 research centers and six production sites. The skills of our employees, the level of our investments and the partnerships we have with European companies and institutions can only reach their potential if collaboration across the whole health system is possible and supported by a legislative framework that enables innovation to reach patients. .
Today, it is imperative to break down the existing silos within the European research ecosystem in order to maintain a competitive advantage. The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of having an open and cross-cutting approach, building on dynamic partnerships to accelerate research, including between the public and private sectors. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), launched in 2008 between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry, has played a key role in stimulating collaboration between academia, industry and organisations. Such partnerships are fundamental to deepening scientific knowledge and collectively tackling obstacles to development. Our industry will continue to invest in the brand new Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) to build on the progress made by IMI2.
Within Servier, collaboration with academia as well as other innovative companies was seen as an incredible opportunity to learn from each other and better meet patient needs. It motivated our participation in IMI and again resulted, a few years ago, in our decision to consolidate our research and development capacities in France, in a single state-of-the-art location that promotes cross-fertilization. This place will become a reality from 2023 within the Servier Research and Development Institute in Paris-Saclay. This new facility will benefit from its proximity and interactions with innovative companies and high-level universities, being in a dynamic science and technology ecosystem, and participating in one of the best innovation clusters in the world.
However, to realize its full potential, such a collaborative research ecosystem must be embedded in a policy environment conducive to innovation. The recently published Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe and the resulting comprehensive review of the pharmaceutical legislative framework provide an opportunity to create a policy environment that will ensure that Europe remains a world leader in life sciences.
This enabling environment would include strong protection of intellectual property rights, a policy framework that unlocks the value of data, an efficient and flexible regulatory framework, an ambitious industrial strategy, as well as predictable market access conditions. In addition, the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) should have the mandate and resources to define common research priorities, guide investments and coordinate public and private efforts to address health threats. future.
These are just some of the many enabling conditions needed for Europe to remain an innovation hub where public, private, small and big players talk to each other and invest together for a better and healthier future.
In Paris, Budapest, Dublin and Madrid, and in all European countries, we want to continue working for patients, knowing that the choices we make today will have a direct impact on people’s lives. Substantial and rapid scientific progress can be achieved with political drive and ambition. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that our research ecosystem in Europe can be at the forefront of the next generation of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. It will also allow us to expand our impact beyond Europe, in order to guarantee the accessibility of our therapeutic solutions to patients and healthcare professionals.
In this collective effort, our industry will play its part.