The European pharmaceutical industry has long expressed its concern that the R&D environment in which it operates is less
than ideal; however, the factors hampering innovation cannot be solely attributed to government policies, such as cost-containment
initiatives. If European companies want to justify the high prices of their drugs and have a valid argument to counter cost-containment
policies, they will need to make major medical advances — a continuing output of 'me-too' products and line extensions will
do nothing to help the industry's case.
With the launch of the IMI, it looks as if many of the factors holding back innovation will finally be addressed. Those behind
the initiative have emphasised the project's urgency, particularly as the US already has its own initiatives to promote innovation,
such as the US Biomarker Consortium and initiatives under the FDA's Critical Path. What stakeholders will be looking for is
a deadline for the IMI to deliver upon its promises. However, it will be up to the companies themselves to make the most of
The author says...
- The European pharma industry has lost ground to foreign rivals — R&D investment in Europe is now only approximately 70% that
of the US.
- To reinvigorate R&D, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has been established to find clear, practical paths to accelerating
drug development and stimulating regional R&D.
- The IMI will help to foster collaborations across the region, which should reduce the development risks for all those involved.
- The IMI's Strategic Research Agenda is organised around four areas: predictability of safety evaluation, predictability of
efficacy evaluation, knowledge management, and education and training.
1. EFPIA, "The pharmaceutical industry in Europe: key facts and figures" (2008).
2. Pharmaceutical-Technology, "Lilly CEO Criticises Lack of Biopharma Innovation" (2009).
3. The In Vivio Blog, "Innovation Is the Pharmaceutical Industry's Only Salvation" (2009) http://invivoblog.blogspot.com/
4. Private Sector Roles in Global Public Health, "Shaping incentives for private sector biotech innovation in China" (2009).
5. RNCOS, Indian Pharma to Get Rs 2,500 Crore Investment (2009).
6. IMI, The Innovative Medicines Initiative: Scientific Priorities/Research Agenda (2009).