On 24 May, Vulcan Consulting hosted an exclusive roundtable discussion on “The Future of Pharmaceuticals: Promoting Innovation and Competitiveness” in Brussels. We were joined on the day by a group of stakeholders from the sector, representing industry, patients and policymakers.
On 26 April, the European Commission presented its proposal for a revision of the EU Pharmaceutical framework. This revision, which is the first in two decades, aims to improve patient access to innovative medicines across the whole of the EU, while also improving regulatory adoption processes.
As the legislative process is due to begin in the coming weeks, with this roundtable, Vulcan Consulting sought to provide industry representatives, patient advocates, and EU co-legislators with a platform for an open exchange of views on important elements of the proposals and their possible impact on the sector, particularly in the context of Ireland as a hub for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
Themes touched upon during the roundtable included the importance of keeping patients at the centre of policies and ensuring their voices are heard throughout the legislative process, how competitiveness needs to be approached through a holistic lens, and how industry needs a predictable, secure regulatory framework.
In his opening remarks, the CEO of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association described Ireland as a global pharmaceutical player and warned that under this revision, all efforts must be made to ensure all aspects of the value chain are addressed to protect and strengthen the industry. Industry representatives with a large presence in Ireland, meanwhile, noted the importance of ensuring a balanced approach between ensuring patient receive greater access to innovative medicines and providing companies with the safeguards to continue investing in developing these medicines.
Bringing the patient voice to the table, Ciara Drohan, Vice President of EFCCA, highlighted how important it is to ensure patients are given a voice throughout the legislative process. In a similar tone, Irish MEP, Deirdre Clune (EPP), noted how research has shown patients are not satisfied with the current European legislation, and how important it is that the European Parliament engage with them going forward.
On the timeline, MEP Clune noted how the road ahead will be long. A representative from the Council of the EU agreed with MEP Clune, arguing that he expects the Council to take longer than the European Parliament to come to an agreement.
There was widespread agreement throughout the discussion that the Commission will fail to achieve its aim of ensuring quicker, fairer and affordable access to medicines under the current proposals. This is just the beginning of the road. Continuous engagement and discussion will be key to ensure the EU’s pharmaceutical sector is protected and strengthened.