Earlier this year, the European Commission announced proposed revisions to existing pharmaceutical legislation. While the proposal is intended to ensure patient access and promote innovation, in reality, these revisions would hurt Europe’s innovation ecosystem, reduce investment in medical R&D and harm European economies, workers and patient access.
The biopharmaceutical industry plays a critical role in the European economy. The industry directly employs 840,000 workers – with about three times more indirectly employed. A significant portion are high-skilled jobs in fields such as academia and clinical science. By discouraging investment in R&D, this legislation would also jeopardize these important jobs, as companies would shift their capital and skilled workers to other markets globally.
The EU is already experiencing a decline in clinical trials. As of 2020, the continent accounted for just over 19% of global clinical trials, compared to over 30% only a decade earlier. Decreased investment from the biopharmaceutical industry, responsible for most of Europe’s clinical trials, would have a tangible impact on the economy and workers.
Reduced investment in the EU would also hurt patient access to medicines. Fewer clinical trials mean that there are fewer opportunities for Europeans to get early access to novel treatments for illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Patients in Europe already have access to fewer new treatments than Americans. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board reported that “about 85% of new medicines are reimbursed by public health plans in the U.S. compared to only 61% in Germany, 43% in France, 37% in Spain, 33% in Austria, 19% in Poland and 12% in Lithuania.”
By discouraging investment in Europe, the proposed revisions to the pharma legislation would hurt patient access, while also harming European economies and workers. A report from one of the lead negotiators in the European Parliament, in fact, calls for more RDP in order to increase investment. Policymakers need to refocus their efforts on encouraging progress through incentives that spur investment, encourage R&D and support patients.
“By discouraging investment in Europe, the proposed revisions to the pharma legislation would hurt patient access, while also harming European economies and workers.”