Given that it can take nearly nine years for a drug candidate to advance from early clinical trials to the market, it is not
surprising that the panel could only make preliminary conclusions about how productive IMI was, since it is still a very young
initiative at this stage. However, IMI is characterised by a continuing high level of activity, which suggests that most stakeholder
groups in the healthcare sector believe it can deliver on its promise of boosting European innovation. As of yet, there is
no indication as to when an IMI project might result in a new drug, but it would certainly be a high profile method of demonstrating
the initiative’s success.
At the end of 2012, IMI launched its eighth call for projects. The call included a major focus on antimicrobial resistance,
which is seen by the European Commission as an area where progress is urgently needed, given that the problem causes 25000
deaths annually and drains over €1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses (6). It is in areas of unmet medical
need such as this where IMI will be judged by those outside the pharmaceutical industry. If IMI only serves to enable pharmaceutical
companies to remain commercially viable in the EU without also visibly serving social and public health objectives, there
could be a backlash due to public funds having been used to such a major extent, and future public–private measures will be
1. EFPIA website, “The Pharmaceutical Industry in Figures,” www.efpia.eu, accessed 7 Feb., 2013.
2. European Commission website, “Healthcare Industries: High Level Group on Innovation and Provision of Medicines,” http://ec.europa.eu,
accessed 7 Feb., 2013.
3. EurActiv website, “Scientists shun medicines project amid funding row,” www.euractiv.com, accessed 7 Feb., 2013.
4. LERU website, “LERU letter on the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI),” www.leru.org, accessed 7 Feb., 2013.
5. European Commission website, “First Interim Evaluation of the Innovative Medicines Initiative,” http://ec.europa.eu, accessed
7 Feb., 2013.
6. European Commission website, “Antimicrobial resistance,” http://ec.europa.eu, accessed 7 Feb., 2013.