New Jersey may be the nation's medicine chest, but that's nothing compared with being the pharmacy of the world. But where is that pharmacy located? Right now, many would argue it's the US. But the European Commission and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations today are releasing details of plan to end Europe's declining international role in medical research,Reuters reports.
To be called the Innovative Medicines Initiative, the effort will offers grants to academic institutes and small companies to research ways of beating bottlenecks in the drug development process. Teams of commercial and not-for-profit researchers will be able to seek support on condition that their findings are publicly shared in an effort to stimulate faster and safer drug development, The Financial Times writes.
"This is a chance for us to really get back on the right foot," Arthur Higgins, president of the EFPIA and head of Bayer Healthcare of Germany. "We're sending a signal to the US, Japan, China and India that Europe is taking its bioscience sector really seriously."
The work is "pre-competitive", involving common solutions to issues in drug development, so no individual company stands to gain a competitive advantage. The European Commission will contribute about half of the funds over seven years, with large drugmakers providing a similar amount "in kind" by supplying staff and equipment, although no individual drugmaker is to gain a competitive advantage.
The collaboration is the largest of its type in the world and marks a victory for Europe’s pharmaceutical industry, which has campaigned for an EU initiative to promote life sciences sector, Reuters notes. Europe used to be the global center of drug development but has fallen behind. Today, three of 10 of the world's meds are developed in Europe, down from seven a decade ago.
The program, however, won't yield immediate results - the first research effort won't start until early next year and many are unlikely to yield practical results for many years. The initial areas of disease focus will be diabetes, brain disorders and respiratory disease, with cancer and infectious diseases following later.