“The current moment is unique for Spain and Europe to strengthen their role as a global centre for R&D and production of medicines, ensuring the strategic and driving force of the pharmaceutical sector. In fact, we must take advantage of the opportunity opened up by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023 to include health, medicines and the innovative pharmaceutical industry that makes them possible among the priorities of this mandate”. This was highlighted by the President of Farmaindustria, Jesús Ponce, at the opening this Thursday of the 22nd Meeting of the Spanish Pharmaceutical Industry, which is being held today and tomorrow at the Menéndez Pelayo International University in Santander, under the title Perspectives on the regulation of medicines and incentives for pharmaceutical R&D.
Looking at Spain, the sector has been working with the government since December on the Strategic Plan for the Pharmaceutical Industry. This plan sets out three key aspects for the sector: ensuring access to innovation, improving the timing and availability of innovative drugs, thanks to a stable, clear, agile and predictable framework; consolidating our country’s leadership in biomedical R&D, with special attention to translational research, nurturing the two-way path between the laboratory and clinical practice; and, finally, also strengthening the productive fabric, focusing on employment, growth and less foreign dependence. “We have been working for many months on the Strategic Plan for the Pharmaceutical Industry and we must continue to promote it so that it soon becomes a reality,” said Ponce.
For his part, the Minister of Health, José Manuel Miñones, also stressed the importance and strategic nature of the pharmaceutical sector for Spain. “Our objective is to continue promoting a favourable environment for investment by the pharmaceutical industry in our country, for which we are in constant dialogue with the sector. The pharmaceutical industry is an ally in achieving the common goal of improving people’s lives, and that is why I firmly believe in the need to promote actions that facilitate the development of the pharmaceutical sector in our country”. The minister added that the aforementioned Strategic Plan for the Pharmaceutical Industry should be “the axis on which the future of the sector is developed”, he said. In fact, the minister assured that the Strategic Plan would already be a reality had it not been for the early elections. “Our objective is to present it as soon as circumstances allow us to do so,” he said.
The minister also pledged to develop legislative and non-legislative measures to ensure that innovation reaches patients “as quickly as possible, in a fair and equitable manner, and with recognition of the value of the medicine”.
In turn, the director general of Farmaindustria, Juan Yermo, pointed out that the sector’s three priorities, which are to improve access to medicines for patients, strengthen R&D to consolidate the biomedical innovation ecosystem and boost industrial capacities, are joined by three other cross-cutting objectives: to focus on digitalisation, minimise the environmental footprint and promote prevention, health education and the proper use of medicines. To achieve them,” he said, “we depend to a large extent on appropriate government policies, good governance of the system, effective public-private collaboration and sustainable investment in healthcare”.
On improving access to innovative medicines for Spanish patients, Yermo called for the urgent need for a reform of the financing and pricing model for medicines. This reform, he said, should include a review of the governance of structures and processes, the definition of a procedure that gives predictability and objectivity to decisions, the establishment of funding and uncertainty management criteria, the development of an early access mechanism for major therapeutic innovations and the streamlining of public procurement processes.
In terms of production capacity, the Director General of Farmaindustria highlighted Spain’s 103 production plants for medicines for human use. “An implementation that was undoubtedly key to ensuring that during the pandemic our country did not suffer any type of medicine supply shortage,” he said. To improve these production capacities, what is needed, he said, are regulatory and other incentives to ensure the production of strategic medicines and promote the production of new medicines, including biologics and advanced therapies, with resilient supply chains that reduce dependence on the outside world and strengthen strategic security and autonomy.
Yermo stressed that with a policy that offers the pharmaceutical industry “stability, predictability and regulatory clarity, and procedures and governance that allow access to medicines in an agile and equitable manner, Spain has the opportunity to become a major hub for innovation and biomedical production”. Few sectors,” he added, “can boast such a stimulating purpose as that of promoting research, innovation and the production of medicines to improve people’s lives, and to do so in an ethical and environmentally responsible way”.
For two days, the Spanish Pharmaceutical Industry Meeting brings together more than 150 representatives from public administrations, academia, research centres, scientific societies, patients and pharmaceutical companies to analyse drug regulation and incentives for innovation. The rest of the meeting will address in detail the current challenge posed by the European Commission’s proposal to revise European pharmaceutical legislation, which contains positive aspects, but also a series of measures that could threaten the future of the pharmaceutical industry on our continent and represent yet another barrier to patient access to innovative treatments.