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EC-pharma research collaboration could provide opportunities for CROs

By Zachary Brennan , 24-Apr-2014
Last updated on 24-Apr-2014 at 12:38 GMT

CROs could benefit from a €3bn ($4.1bn) research programme run jointly by the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry, according to ACRO.

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of a second decade-long Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI2), intended to piggyback off of the first and focus on the development of treatments that contribute to lifelong health and well-being, as well as rising levels of chronic and degenerative diseases.

The first initiative spurred research on more than 40 topics, including work to discover biomarkers for enhanced vaccine immunosafety, new chemical manufacturing methods, and predicting cognitive properties of new drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases in early clinical development. Industry is at the forefront of the initiative, with companies such as Pfizer, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim contributing.

According to its promoters, the initiative created nearly 1,500 jobs for a budget of €2bn, with half of the funding coming from the Commission, and the other half from EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations).

However, this initiative may also offer work for the CRO industry, though it’s unknown what new projects will take shape at this point.

John Lewis, vice president of ACRO (Association of Clinical Research Organizations), told Outsourcing-Pharma.com: “Initiatives such as this one in Europe, NCATS [National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences] in the US and various cooperative development efforts focusing on specific therapeutic areas represent opportunities for CROs to showcase their project management expertise and scientific knowledge to ensure greater efficiency in the execution of these endeavors."

The European Commission and the Council now must decide whether to approve the programme as IMI is a public-private partnership between the European Commission and EFPIA.

Pushback

Despite the initiative’s early success, not all of Parliament was in favour of the new initiative, with the Green group voting against it.

French MEP Michèle Rivasi said in a statement that she has met regularly with trade unions within the sector and there is currently an employment crisis for smaller pharma companies as the large companies continue to dominate industry.

"In this context, SMEs are particularly vulnerable parties. The biggest companies set the research objectives which are then endorsed by the European Commission. They therefore have an actual advantage when funds for research are being distributed. If they want to have access to this public funding for research, SMEs have no choice but to play the game of outsourcing their R&D departments," Rivasi said.

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