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We're part of the solution, pharma tells Europe

Published on 13/03/06 at 10:20am

Europe's pharmaceutical industry body EFPIA has launched a new promotional campaign for the sector, which it hopes will raise awareness of its contribution to healthcare across the European Union.

The campaign was launched in February after much consultation across Europe between national pharmaceutical bodies, with EFPIA aiming to create a single unified message for the sector across the diverse member states of the EU.

The campaign aims to change perceptions of the industry's medicines as being a cost burden on healthcare to be seen as part of the solution, helping to improve the health of patients and reduce costs in the long run.

Presenting the new campaign to a pharmaceutical audience at the recent Economist conference in London, Brian Ager, director general of EFPIA said the organisation had carried out research about how it was perceived by stakeholders.

He said there was a widespread belief in pharma that the industry's image has reached 'rock bottom', but cited research done by the ABPI in the UK which shows the sector is still well thought of by most MPs as well as the general public.

EFPIA conducted its own survey of EU stakeholders - or the Brussels 'chattering classes',  as Ager called them  - the Members of the European Parliament and the press and others.

The results were summed up in a simple mark out of 10 in terms of reputation, with the industry scoring 6.3.

Ager said the results were pleasantly surprising for many in the industry, but stressed that the results were not cause for complacency.

Asked to identify some of pharma's weak points, stakeholders picked out a handful of factors. These included being 'too profit driven' and 'too faceless', and not being a key player in the healthcare debate.

Commenting on the survey Ager said: "I would argue that improving the industry's image is not an aim in itself. Our aim is not to be the most loved industry in the world. What we need to be is patient focused, and focused on innovation."

EFPIA now intends to concentrate efforts on promoting its agenda on a number of issues, including a push for pricing reforms, a cut in delays to access caused by pricing and reimbursement and other problems.

Ager stressed once again the need for Europe to provide a more competitive environment, with Asia now joining the US in rivalling Europe for pharmaceutical investment.

"Asia is knocking on the door too, and I think Europe is being torn in two directions," he said.


EFPIA's case for the industry

Europe has a great deal to gain in health and economic terms from a strong and competitive indigenous research-based pharmaceutical sector. The research-based pharmaceutical industry is one of the leading high technology industries in the EU, amounting to:

17% of all EU business R&D expenditure;

over 5% of the total EU manufacturing exports;

about 3.5% of the total EU manufacturing added value.

It is a significant employer of skilled scientists and technologists and can make a major contribution towards achieving the targets set by the European Council in Lisbon and Barcelona.

But data for 2003 and preliminary figures for 2004 confirm that the US has continued to increase its relative position as a locus of innovation. Between 1990 and 2004, R&D investment in the US grew 4.5 times while in Europe it only grew 2.7 times.

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