The European Brain Council attended the 2016 EFPIA annual meeting on “A Healthier Future: from innovations to outcomes“, which was held in Brussels on the 15th of June, with the participation of a number of high-level speakers.

Roberto Bertollini, WHO representative at the EU, highlighted some general global trends like migration, climate change, an ageing population and the increasing challenges faced by welfare. He focused on non communicable diseases and mental health, showing the clash between a growing number of patients and higher  expenditures and, on the other hand, a level of research funding that remains low and stable. Elias Mossialos, LSE Health director talked about moving towards an outcomes based healthcare system, pointing out that politicians often tend to confuse cost containment with efficiency, but that’s not always the case, as there are more challenges ahead. For instance: human resource and workforce planning; reducing the provision of low value care; promotion of evidence-based practice; quality improvement; organizational functioning of hospitals; hospital infections and avoidable hospitalisations; adverse drug events and preventable drug interactions; patients non-adherence to therapy.

The EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis,  stressed how antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global challenge and a growing obstacle to the treatment of infectious diseases worldwide, and highlighted the need to take coordinated step at international level, as “microbes do not respect borders”. One part of the answer to AMR, he said, is Research and Development, and it needs to be demand-driven rather than supply-driven. IMI2, for instance, offers funding to stimulate research on novel therapies to tackle AMR. Another part of the answer lies in the regulatory system. Health is at the heart of Europe social and economic prosperity. Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, focused on the rise of eHealth and emphasized that ICT constitutes a huge potential for health. Health care industry is aware of this, but he called for more efforts are in order to guarantee better efficiency. In this respect, standards are needed and are of strategic importance for European innovation; they cannot be developed and defined at the national level, European standards are needed.

Joe Jimenez, EFPIA’s President, concluded this day of fruitful discussions exposing the three main barriers to innovation, namely: the lack of readiness of our systems; their focus on inputs, that are easily measurable, rather than on outcomes; the organization of care. He also draw attention on the key areas in which EFPIA is engaging to respond to this, that are the help to the system in becoming fitter; the reorientation of healthcare systems from a focus on inputs to a focus on outcomes, and the call to pharmaceutical industries to act as partners of the healthcare systems rather than as simple suppliers.