Throughout negotiations on the next Research Framework Programme (Horizon 2020), the European Commission had repeatedly pointed to initiatives like the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP), the European Research Centre (ERC) and the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) as European-funded mechanisms which will directly address global health R&D gaps throughout the next budget period. Civil society organisations have therefore looked into the potential of those initiatives to address the current market failure in developing new tools for poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs).
Global Health Advocates France and other members of the informal European Advocacy Coalition on Global Health Research & Development (EACH) have released this week a position paper on the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry aiming to finance health R&D and now entering into its second phase (2014-2024). The proposal for a Council Regulation was presented by the European Commission on 10 July 2013 and will be discussed throughout November by the Industry and Research Committee (ITRE) of the European Parliament. The EU indicative contribution to IMI2 is EUR 1.725 billion while EFPIA will contribute EUR 1.5 billion in-kind.
The paper raises arguments on the need to safeguard transparency and inclusiveness in the management of the initiative and ensure an increased focus on European and global public health needs. To this end, it calls on the European Commission to take a more active role in setting the research priorities of the programme and addressing health R&D gaps, especially with regard to PRNDs on which the industry has limited market interest to invest.
Global health R&D has also been identified as one of the existing pharmaceutical gaps and medicines development needs by the WHO Report on Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013, commissioned by the European Commission. Investing in PRNDs R&D has the potential to optimise health outcomes globally, reduce poverty and foster growth, while meeting existing EU commitments to address global health needs such as the 2010 Commission Communication and Council Conclusions on the EU role in Global Health.
The paper also recommends IMI2 to set conditions that could ensure open access to research data as well as broad and affordable access to the end products. In our view, broad sharing of data resulting from IMI2 projects is essential to reinforce collaborative and cumulative processes to increase scientific knowledge. Sharing data can also increase the transparency and accountability of research and bolster its reliability by enabling other investigators to repeat or extend analyses.
Global Health Advocates is looking forward to exploring further how IMI2 can better address the needs of patients in Europe and worldwide.