As the European Commission prepares to release its long-awaited and controversial review of pharmaceutical innovation incentives, a coalition of think tanks, NGOs and academics from a range of European countries today urge policymakers to put innovation at the heart of it.
“Innovation is paramount to Europe’s future economic growth. Yet EU member states underspend on Research and Development (R&D) and are outperformed by peer nations such as the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia”, says Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens, a co-author of civil society statement on the EU’s intellectual property incentives review.
“European societies are ageing and we urgently need new technological solutions to mitigate the economic and fiscal effects. There is a growing need for new medicines against diseases that are prevalent among older people, such as neurological conditions and cancer,” he says.
“Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are a key component of European innovation, but the Commission looks set to recommend their erosion to reduce lower medicine prices and boost generic manufacturing. This would set Europe at a disadvantage to its main competitors, many of which are strengthening IPRs in a bid to improve innovation” said Barbara Kolm, report co-author and director of the Austrian Economics Center.
Weakening IPRs would also hit research and development into the diseases of aging, many of which are scientifically challenging, and expensive and time-consuming to research.
“Europe desperately needs more innovation, but the Commission looks like it is prepared to undermine the EU’s innovative capacity in a misguided bid to reduce health spending and prop up the continent’s generic drug manufacturing sector”, says Stevens. “Given the enormous challenges facing Europe, this would be a mistake.”