Leaders from across the health sector released a joint statement underlining the potential of the recently-published draft proposal for a European Partnership for Health Innovation, or Innovative Health Initiative (IHI), released by the European Commission.
The statement – which accounts for COCIR, EFPIA, EuropaBio, MedTech Europe and Vaccines Europe, all partners in the initiative – acknowledge how the proposal envisions Europe as “a world-leader in collaborative research and development”, centring technology, connectivity and interoperability as key areas of investment.
WHY IT MATTERS
IHI is a multi-sector public-private partnership intended to share and excel knowledge and innovation in the European health sector regardless of the socio-economic conditions of individual locations. It brings together experts from medtech and pharma in a collaborative effort to produce person-centred healthcare.
There is a particular emphasis on advancing pre-competitive research in a way that benefits not only small and big companies but also scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals to provide the highest quality of care to patients.
The initiative, which was originally proposed in July 2019, is expected to be draft legislation by autumn of this year. It is intended to complement and work in tandem with already-existing partnerships, such as the EU-Africa Global Health Partnership, the European Partnership for One Health/AMR and the EU4Health Programme, to expand the scope of European health research.
THE LARGER PICTURE
There has long been an acknowledged divide in healthcare between pharma and tech, one that was addressed last year at the HIMSS & Health 2.0 Europe 2019 conference in Helsinki, and will again be a focus at HIMSS & Health 2.0 European Digital Event (7-11 September 2020). As such, there has been increasing momentum in pharmaceutical industries to collaborate with researchers and health tech to speed up processes, stay up-to-date and benefit patients.
With such a large and potentially-impactful collaboration as IHI, there must be significant regulation in place to ensure the safety of patients, which could significantly alter the way that healthcare is conducted across Europe. Similar regulations were adopted earlier this year with more stringent standards for medical devices.
ON THE RECORD
The draft proposal outlined the need for such a partnership: “While problems such as an ageing population and increased disease burden will most probably not decrease as a result of EU action, their impact may be ameliorated through EU-supported R&I activities. The problems described are of a nature and magnitude that individual member states developing their own initiatives cannot solve. Concerted action at EU is the most appropriate option. This will allow more coherence and coordination of effort, and avoid duplication.”
The statement highlighted how the pandemic had exposed the need for connectivity across different health sectors: “Investment in collaborative R&D can play a significant role in building health resilience, improving European health systems’ sustainability, addressing the needs of patients across Europe, and driving the region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has also underlined the importance of having a large-scale partnership for health innovation to mobilise and coordinate public and private research efforts aimed at tackling global public health threats.”