Europe's Innovation Initiative Moves Forward

May 8, 2008
Angie Drakulich
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The European community and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) held its first call for proposals for its five-year, €2 billion ($3.1 billion) initiative to boost biomedical innovation.

Brussels (Apr. 20)-The European Community and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) held its first call for proposals for its five-year, €2 billion ($3.1 billion) initiative to boost biomedical innovation. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), kicked off in March, is meant to tackle the ongoing decline in biopharmaceutical innovation that has occurred as a result of increasing research and development (R&D) costs, higher regulatory hurdles, and more complex science, according to an EFPIA release.

EFPIA President and CEO of Bayer HealthCare (Leverkusen, Germany) Arthur J. Higgins addressed the audience in Brussels. “We as an industry fully accept our responsibility and are ready to play our part in bringing forward medical innovation. At the same time, we have no problem to admit that we cannot solve all these issues by ourselves-but rather, we need to join forces with partners to address the main causes of delays, or ‘bottlenecks,’ in drug discovery,” he said.

Under IMI, innovative patient-centered projects that aim to address such R&D bottlenecks will be eligible for funding. Identified “bottlenecks” include safety evaluation, the prediction of efficacy, knowledge management and gaps in education, and training. Research projects are to focus on five disease areas: cancer, brain disorders, inflammatory diseases, metabolic diseases, and infectious diseases.

IMI will award research grants to a variety of stakeholders, according to the release. Small and medium-sized enterprises, academia, research centers, patient groups, public authorities (including regulators), and the research-based pharmaceutical industry will all be involved.

IMI will also work to improve education and training among European scientists. The initiative’s research agenda includes establishing a European Medicines Research Academy (EMRA) by 2013 to educate and train current and future professionals, including regulatory officers, involved in biomedical R&D. 

According to IMI’s Governing Board Chairman Jonathan Knowles, also of EFPIA and member of the Roche executive committee and head of group research at Hoffmann-La Roche (Basel, Switzerland), “Europe has great potential for innovation because of its excellent science base. However, it is lagging behind other global players such as the US. The Innovative Medicines Initiative will ensure that Europe’s biomedical sciences receive targeted strategic support for the benefit of patients, scientists and citizens. This in turn will help to improve Europe's competitiveness in biopharmaceutical innovation and make it a more attractive place for pharmaceutical R&D.”

For more, visit the Innovative Medicines Initiative website.