Press release

Swift EU action needed to ensure biotech sector stays competitive

EuropaBio conference hosted by EPP Vice-Chair Françoise Grossetête MEP.

Brussels, 30 September 2015– During a conference organised today in the European Parliament by EPP Vice-Chair, Françoise Grossetête MEP, EuropaBio called on EU decision-makers to implement bold policies to ensure that the European healthcare biotech sector retains its competitiveness on a global scale and continues to deliver growth, jobs and innovation. These include supporting incremental innovations, attracting investments and reducing the administrative and regulatory burden on biotech companies.

The conference, entitled “The future of medicine: Towards an integrated EU policy approach for the pharmaceutical sector”, explored the necessity for the EU to design a specific industrial policy for the pharmaceutical sector in Europe. Such industrial policy should provide a strategic and holistic vision about how to foster medical research, facilitate patient access and boost the competitiveness of Europe’s life science industry.

“We continue to see a concerning gap between the conditions for a thriving biotech industry in the rest of the world and the environment for the sector at European level. Business is moving out to extra-EU jurisdictions where access to capital markets is easier and less burdensome, because proactive policies to attract investments and innovation have been adopted,” stated EuropaBio’s Secretary General Nathalie Moll during a European Parliament panel discussion on “Regaining our Place as the World’s Pharmacy”.

“Biotech companies are facing challenges along five main stages: discovery, product development, manufacturing, access and continued development – which need to be addressed at a European level in a coordinated way,” stated Miriam Gargesi, Director for Healthcare Biotechnology at EuropaBio. “An excellent example of this can be seen in the decision of the UK government to appoint a Minister for Life Sciences in 2014 giving a strong signal to industry and investors,” explained Ms Gargesi.

In recent years, the healthcare biotechnology industry has led to outstanding medical advances resulting in dramatic improvements to the quality of life of millions of European patients. Only 30 biotech medicines had been authorised in Europe until the entry into force of the centralised approval system in 1995. Since then and in only 20 years, that number has trebled with approximately 90 applications for marketing authorisation of biotech medicines having been received by the European Medicines Agency. The percentage of new healthcare products being produced using biotechnology continues to increase and is now over 50% of the pharmaceutical pipeline [1]. Biological medicines have become the treatment option for many chronic conditions such as diabetes, anaemia or hepatitis C. They have also become the new standard of care for other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or cancer [2].