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Healthcare Industries

Innovation in Healthcare Industries

Maksym Yemelyanov -

The Commission has recognised innovation as a decisive factor in fostering Europe's competitiveness for years. This commitment was also underlined in the "Manifesto for Creativity and Innovation in Europe" which was endorsed by the President Barroso in November 2010. This Manifesto will help shape the EU's strategy for the decade 2010-2020.

To set the conditions right for a creative and innovative Europe is a must in order to preserve our standard of living as well as to cope with the challenges of the future. The ramifications of ageing societies, the emergence of new public heath challenges and the internationalisation of the value chain for healthcare products are just a few examples of issues the EU has to face.

Innovation is one of the main drivers in healthcare industries. It is quintessential for these sectors. The scientific breakthroughs in genetics and nanotechnology and our increased general understanding of biological processes have triggered radial changes in the innovation process in various sectors. The pharmaceutical industry is a prominent example of how new technological breakthroughs have led to new processes and products. Many products which are on the market today (e.g. human insulin or new vaccines) were deemed unthinkable 50 years ago.

The pharmaceutical industry has enjoyed a secular trend of decades of growth. However, times have changed. Today, the pharmaceutical industry has entered a period of uncertainty and transition which is characterised by high R&D costs and fewer new medicines while dealing with price/reimbursement controls and access restrictions as societies have reached limits in their willingness and/or ability to pay for pharmaceutical products. To secure the public purse's willingness to finance pharmaceutical products, joint efforts of Member States, the European institutions, and the private sector are necessary. 

What we need is an innovation-friendly environment since only new innovative products and services will provide the means to address medical needs and create prosperity for Europe's citizens. Particularly in the current economic crisis the EU is called upon to improve the conditions for innovation as the foundation for the future is created today. To fulfil the unmet needs of patients and to preserve Europe's role as a prime location for R&D and manufacturing of healthcare products are the objectives of European policy. Steps have already been taken. The Commission is supporting R&D in life sciences in the Seventh Research and Development Framework Programme (FP7) and in the Innovative Medicines Initiative which constitutes a new instrument as it forms a public-private-partnership to enhance and accelerate the development process so as to make new treatments available to patients. The Regulation on Advanced Therapies and the provisions on biosimilars are other examples of how to foster the innovation process. But science does not stop; more changes are to be expected, e.g. more patient-specific treatment options are going to materialise.

The Commission will continue to be engaged in making its contribution in creating an innovation-friendly environment and facilitating the uptake of new products and services by Member States in order make Europe an enviable hub for biomedical innovation.

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