DIALOGUE WITH STAKEHOLDERS - Dialogue with stakeholders
Industry Perspective - Emmanuel Chantelot
Biotech industry: living longer and healthier lives
Emmanuel Chantelot is Head of International Government Relations at Shire Pharmaceuticals and has been Chairman of the EuropaBio Healthcare Council since 2012.
EuropaBio is the European Association of BioIndustries. Its members are involved in research, development, testing, manufacturing and commercialisation of biotech products and processes in human and animal healthcare, diagnostics, bioinformatics, chemicals, crop protection, agriculture, food and environmental products and services. EuropaBio also counts a number of National Biotech Associations in its membership who in turn represent more than 1,800 biotech SMEs.
So what are the challenges that the Healthcare Biotech Industry is currently facing in Europe?
Emmanuel says: ‘As we all know, the ageing European population is putting a strain on national healthcare systems. This is compounded by economic stagnation which does little to encourage investment in innovative new treatments and research. We believe that Personalised Medicine (PM) can play an important role in this context while addressing currently unmet medical needs. The development of PM can boost European healthcare R&D. This will require significant upfront investments for PM but the efficiency gains and healthcare systems’ savings they can generate should show in the long run.’
‘Using modern biology’s new methods and tools, PM combines diagnostic and therapeutic tools to create predictable outcomes, tailoring medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. In particular, biomarkers and genetic data are important tools that can select a patient group with a higher chance of a favourable response to a medicine. This will contribute to successfully delivering the right treatments, for the right patient, at the right time.’
‘Nevertheless, in order to enable the development and uptake of PM, a complete shift in the way we think about healthcare and health investment is needed. ‘
Looking at the development of new medicines, there have been cases of these innovations almost being abandoned because the first clinical results were unsatisfactory. However, these drugs proved highly effective for a specific category of the population, highlighting both the complexity and the added-value of personalised medicine. Emmanuel believes that the EU needs a better adapted and more consistent regulatory pathway for personalised medicine, as well as a tailored policy approach for the reimbursement of biotechnology treatments.
He says: ‘The EMA and the European Commission need to continue playing a strong role in improving the current system, but reimbursement is still a Member State issue. We need a different way of doing things. There is a definite need for faster access to medicines. It is disturbing to see the difference in speed of uptake and how long it takes for new drugs to go through the reimbursement process in some Member States. The priority is always to ensure the safe treatment of patients, and that they get access to the medicine they need as soon as possible but we can improve the way this happens ’
On a positive note, Emmanuel emphasised that while there are still challenges for patients to have access to innovative medicines, there has certainly been a shift towards making medicine and all of its processes more patient-centric.
He says: ‘There has been a push towards greater openness and transparency in the past decade,’ adding, ‘no company would these days develop a new drug without close involvement with patients. This is why EuropaBio founded the EuropaBio Patients Bio-Forum which includes a number of patient representatives and discusses a number of policy areas of common relevance for patients and the industry.’
Emmanuel Chantelot was talking to Brussels-based freelance journalist Tony MallettAuthor: Tony Mallett