John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), urged that biopharmaceuticals be included in transatlantic trade and economic discussions. Lechleiter participated in the American Council on Germany’s conference on “The Transatlantic Partnership in the 21st Century,” joining U.S. Fed Chairman Paul Volcker; German State Secretary in the Federal Finance Ministry Jorg Asmussen; and Handlesblatt editor-in-chief Gabor Steingart in a panel discussion. “Biopharmaceutical innovation has enormous global economic and social benefits,” said Lechleiter. “New medicines are one of the most cost-effective investments we can make to improve health care and enable more efficient use of health care budgets. The whole world has a stake in policies in Europe and America that promote innovation and trade to address the vast unmet medical needs of growing and aging populations.”
Even with these benefits, biopharmaceutical innovation is very susceptible to the political environment – both nationally and internationally. Lechleiter explained that responses to short-term cost pressures by government payers are hampering the sector, citing recent reforms in Germany as an example.
“We must ensure that health care reform in our countries will help promote biopharmaceutical innovation and not undermine it,” said Lechleiter. “Health care reform should focus on creating value through the system – and that means promoting innovation and efficiency. Even the absolute requirements of our sector in global markets – intellectual property protection, supply chain security and anti-counterfeiting measures are far from secure.”
To spur trans-Atlantic trade in pharmaceuticals and maintain medical innovation, Lechleiter called for:
consistent regulatory policies
intellectual property protection, and
harmonized systems to deal with common issues such as counterfeiting.
He noted a positive step is the recent Falsified Medicines Directive of the EU, which aims to create a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting system across the full length of the supply chain in Europe.
Lechleiter said the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) is a very positive step forward and pressed for inclusion of biotech/biopharmaceutical industries in the ongoing TEC discussions and meetings. The TEC was initially proposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007 to strengthen transatlantic economic cooperation between the U.S. and the EU.
“The TEC is an additional important forum which we should use to foster the growth of biotechnologies and promote biopharmaceutical innovation,” said Lechleiter. “An increased focus on biotech and innovative pharmaceuticals would complement the TEC’s existing efforts to advance the transatlantic harmonization of regulatory regimes affecting key future growth industries.”
“Other industries – such as auto and green energy – are already working closely with the U.S. and European governments to advance discussions through the TEC,” concluded Lechleiter. “Transatlantic cooperation in biopharma would not only lead to technological advancement and job growth on both sides of the Atlantic, but also benefit society through faster/broader access to life-saving medical therapies.”