"I would like Europe to become a centre of excellence and a focus for pharmaceutical research once again", stated EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today at the annual assembly of the European pharmaceutical industry (EFPIA) in Bruges. "We need to nurture our research-based industries by reinforcing science and technology in Europe. Europe needs to invest more and in a better, more consistent way: it has to cut red tape and be bold." From 1999 to 2002 the Commission invested around € 1 billion in health-related research. In the next four years, within the new EU research framework programme, at least € 2 billion will be spent in this area, with a particular priority on genomics and biotechnology for health. But this is not enough. In recent years, the competitiveness of EU pharmaceutical industry has decreased. The fact is that the US, with a bigger market for drugs, in particular those based on advances in bio-medicines, has overtaken the EU in total research investment. "The EU has been late in grasping the potential of biotechnology for the development of new drugs," says Commissioner Busquin. "But Europe is catching up: new biotech companies are created every year in the EU. Professional technology transfer and investments in collaborative biotechnology research programmes are on the rise. Our latest Research Programme will foster the competitiveness of the European pharmaceutical industry. But EU funding will only have sufficient leverage if pharmaceutical companies and Member States join us in networking research efforts at EU level."
Commissioner Busquin also refers to the conclusions of the recent Commission Communication on "Biotechnology and Life Sciences": "The Commission and Member States need to work more closely together to develop coherent policies for making the most of biotechnology and life sciences. This will benefit public health and the competitiveness of the European pharmaceutical industry."
"Of course we cannot expect the pharmaceutical industry to invest as much in research as in the US, if the value of the EU market remains at only about half of that of the US, particularly if it does not seem to encourage the introduction of innovative drugs" adds Commissioner Busquin. "Despite this, the EU is only slightly behind the US in terms of biotech patenting activity and in terms of scientific publications we are as good as the US. Indeed, our goal is to attract more investment into EU biotech and pharmaceutical research, whether from EU or US industry, and to make the EU research and innovation system more effective in terms of innovative output".
fabio Fabbi | Europäische Kommission
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