The president of Farmaindustria appears before the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction presenting the position of the pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical sector has proved essential in the coronavirus health crisis and is called to play a relevant role in the necessary strengthening of the National Health System and in the economy of the future.
“Health is the new engine for the well-being and prosperity of countries. Let’s bet on it because there is a lot to gain in the health and economic fields ”, he pointed out
The innovative pharmaceutical industry is called to play a leading role in the new health, social and economic stage that the crisis unleashed by Covid-19 has opened. Its ability to generate quality and equal employment and the possibility of promoting the industrial fabric and investment in biomedical research are the main proposals that the sector puts on the table to be part of the solution to the complex situation in which our country.
This was transferred this Friday by the president of Farmaindustria, Martín Sellés, to the members of the Health Working Group of the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction of Congress, and which constitute the main lines of work that the Association wants to develop with the Administration to help revive the Spanish economy and improve the National Health System.
Sellés has stressed the importance of his proposal for the strengthening of the public health system. The health crisis has shown “the importance of having a good public health system, well endowed and adequately financed,” he said, and also “how important it is to invest properly in R&D, in innovation, and how public-private collaboration it helps us to be faster in finding pharmacological and more efficient solutions. ” Therefore, he argues, research, which is mainly promoted by the pharmaceutical industry, must be an essential engine to boost the health system.
In this sense, he has also underlined how the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the response capacity of the pharmaceutical industry in Spain. First, to avoid supply problems, where, in collaboration with the Spanish Medicines Agency, distributors and pharmacies, “we have managed to get the 25 million Spaniards who take a medicine every day to have them”. To this end, he added, “we have ensured that the 82 drug production plants that we have in our country operate at full capacity, even in the harshest weeks, with robust contingency plans that have functioned adequately, and we have also worked so that the medicines that are produced abroad arrive in Spain in a timely manner, avoiding stockpiling by third countries ”.
And, secondly, to mobilize an unprecedented amount of scientific and economic resources to find an effective treatment or vaccine as soon as possible, an area in which Spain has an important role, the result, he pointed out, “of years of collaborative work between the Health Administration , hospitals, researchers, patients and pharmaceutical companies, which have made Spain an international benchmark in clinical research ”. With more than 80 clinical trials with medicines to fight the pandemic, we are “the European country that has approved the most trials and the fourth worldwide, and it is expected that more than 25,000 patients will participate in them.”
The president of Farmaindustria has highlighted precisely the strong drive for research collaboration, key to trying to reduce the ten years it takes to develop a drug or vaccine to just one, and highlighted the challenge that vaccines will entail in large-scale production (“we may have to produce more than ten billion in the event that each person needs two doses”). In this regard, too, it has celebrated the industry’s commitment: to produce at risk (that is, to start producing before the vaccine is approved, to be able to start vaccination immediately if it is finally approved) and to assume that vaccines and treatments will be affordable and equitable access in all countries. “This is an absolute priority for us,” he explained, “because we are aware that when we have treatments and vaccines, uncertainty and fear will disappear and confidence will return, and that is critical for the health crisis, but also for the economic crisis.” .
Recovering production: health and economic value
The President of Farmaindustria recalled that the pharmaceutical industry in Spain is one of the most advanced sectors in the generation of quality employment, with 94% of permanent jobs – compared to 73% of the national average – with two out of three university-educated workers and almost one in three jobs for those under 29 years of age. Among direct, indirect and induced employment, this sector employs more than 200,000 people and, in the case of direct employment, more than half are women. “We can provide quality jobs, and especially youth employment. We can grow and provide our country with qualified jobs, with projection and linked to innovation ”, he asserted.
Likewise, it has underlined the commitment that the pharmaceutical industry can assume with an increase in industrial investment, creating new drug production plants in Spain, modernizing the current ones or expanding some of the 82 existing ones. “It has become clear during this crisis,” he added, “the need for Spain and Europe to recover the production of active ingredients and medicines that have been delocalized in Asian countries in recent years. Such high dependence on the outside is a risk in such a delicate area as that of the drug and we are in a position to recover part of that lost production. This has a sanitary value, but also an economic and social one, since it would allow to generate a productive fabric, exports and employment ”.
Third, it has proposed increasing investments in basic and clinical research (each year pharmaceutical companies dedicate 150,000 million euros worldwide to this chapter) and increase collaboration with public institutions to strengthen R&D in our country. He insisted that “there is room for growth. We start from a privileged position to do so. Our leadership in coronavirus trials is the result of years of cooperative work, which has allowed us to become an international benchmark. ”
As you have recalled, Spain invests 1.24% of GDP in R&D, when many of the surrounding countries spend more than 2% and when the European Union average is 2.2%. The innovative pharmaceutical industry would be in a position to contribute to improving these figures, trying, among other measures, to bring new basic research centers to our country and to have more autonomous communities participating in clinical trials, since most are now concentrated in Madrid and Catalonia .
Medicine as an investment, not as an expense
In order for these proposals to become a reality, it is necessary to create a stable and predictable regulatory environment that enables long-term plans to be established, which in turn make it possible to maintain investments over time. Likewise, a medium-long-term pharmaceutical strategy is needed that starts from the vision of the drug as an investment, and not as an expense; that it recognizes innovation, and that it assumes the implication that the innovative medicine and the industry that produces it have not only in the field of Health, but also in those of Industry, Economy, Labor or Finance.
“Of course we have to support the traditional sectors of our economy, but we have already seen that this is not enough. They are necessary, but not sufficient. We have to go further and bet on R&D, innovation and knowledge. It is the only way to maintain the welfare state, “Sellés said.
He has also asked parliamentarians for a more homogeneous policy of access to treatments among the autonomous communities and to be in line with those of the most advanced countries in our environment, as well as a competition between original and generic medicines on equal terms, without privileges of some over the others, given that in the public system they have by law the same price.
He has finished his speech in Congress with two recommendations to the Reconstruction Commission. The first is to strengthen the National Health System, through an increase in its financing, which should be at least 7% of GDP. And, secondly, to strengthen those sectors that can generate “lasting wealth in the country, and our sector is clearly one of them.”
“It is evident that the pharmaceutical sector, the health sector in general, has a dynamic effect on the economy,” he concluded. It can be said that health is the new engine of the well-being and prosperity of countries. Let’s bet on it because there is a lot to gain in the health and economic fields ”.
If we have learned anything from this health crisis, it is the fundamental role played by sectors such as the pharmaceutical. It is time to bet and invest in this sector as a leading role in the new health, social and economic stage,