News - October 5, 2020

EUCOPE-BIO Webinar: Maintain the innovation ecosystem at all costs

The EU and US Biotech Sector’s Response to COVID-19

On 24 September, EUCOPE, together with BIO, hosted a webinar focusing on the response of the global biotech sector to COVID-19 pandemic as well as measures taken by regulatory and policy institutions in the EU and US. The objective of the webinar was to understand the reaction of the two jurisdictions to the pandemic.

Alexander Natz, EUCOPE Secretary General, kicked off the webinar providing an overview of the European response. He recognised the tremendous work done by the European Institutions and Agencies in providing timely guidance to manage a European coordinated strategy in a global setting.

Looking ahead, a balanced approach and proportional measures will be crucial to guarantee continuity of the work of the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Before taking any actions, it is essential to look at the lessons learnt in the past months to be well equipped and ready in case of a second wave of the virus.

Joe Diamond, BIO Executive Vice-President for International Affairs, echoed Alexander’s message that an adequate analysis of the effectiveness of the biotech industry requires a global perspective together with global collaboration. Differentiation of the supply chain is a first step that mitigates disruption in case of natural disaster, including pandemic, concluded Joe.

Regulatory flexibility agreed during the health crisis demonstrated to be an effective instrument to guarantee resilience and continuity of care. This should be one of the lessons learnt for responding to future crisis and high unmet medical needs.

“Maintain innovation ecosystem alive to keep the engine of innovation running. If you want innovation you need to support small companies” called together EUCOPE and BIO.

Response by Industry

David Thomas, Vice-President for Industry Research at BIO introduced some slides demonstrating how the most advanced drug programmes are monitored with dynamic and interactive tools highlighting that 72% of unique drug programmes come from smaller companies.

In addition to Dave’s insights, Phyllis Arthur, Vice-President Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics at BIO illustrated the pivotal role played by the World Health Organization (WHO) during the pandemic, as well as the role it will play in the future to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments will be available to all countries once approved by regulatory Agencies. Public-private cooperation will be essential for achieving successful results.

Coming back to the European landscape, Monica Dias, European Medicines Agency, provided an overview of the actions undertaken from the Agency to mitigate the disruption of the pharmaceutical supply chain and, possibly, prevent any shortages.

The event has been also an opportunity to hear from a company perspective the impact of COVID-19 on the biotech sector. Julien Patris, Alnylam, emphasised that working for innovation in health means working for growth. Instead, cost-containment measures hit disproportionally biotech companies and depressed their growth. A new mindset and bold actions are needed for achieving a sustainable ecosystem.

To conclude, Antoine Jourdan, French Ministry of Economic Affairs, spoke about the new France Relance plan that is expected to increase the resilience of the national and European supply. COVID-19 represents a paradigm shift, simplifying access to market, streamlining processes and access to finance for businesses.

Watch it again!

The video recording of the webinar is available at this link: