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Brussels, 30 April 2008

A public-private research initiative to boost the competitiveness of Europe's pharmaceutical industry

The European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry began work today on implementing the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI aims to remove severe bottlenecks in the drug development process through innovative research projects, hence to accelerate the discovery and development of new medicines. It will launch later this year promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. IMI is a unique public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik underlined the ambitious goals of the initiative: “IMI is about pooling public and private efforts so that Europe can be a big player. We want to be the best in the world and become a champion's league for biopharmaceutical research by moving from individual project-funding, to joint programme funding involving industry and public stakeholders."

Arthur Higgins, President of EFPIA, emphasized the need to join forces with partners to address the main cause of delays in drug innovation: “The challenges behind innovation are complex, and the decline in the number of new drugs is due to a combination of scientific, regulatory and economic factors. We as an industry are ready to play our part in bringing forward medical innovation but cannot solve all these issues by ourselves”.

The drug development for a new chemical or biological candidate is estimated to cost over one billion euros and takes on average 12,5 years to bring a new medicine to the market. Out of every 10,000 substances synthesized in laboratories, only one or two will successfully pass all the stages to become marketable medicines. This project is all the more important as Europe was once known as the “world’s pharmacy” with until 1998 ago 7 out of 10 new medicines originated from Europe. Today this has fallen to about 3 out of 10.

IMI will boost Europe’s competitiveness in biopharmaceutical innovation and foster Europe as the most attractive place for pharmaceutical R&D. The pharmaceutical industry is a knowledge based sector that has a huge impact on employment for highly trained people. It provides Europe with high skilled jobs - in 2004 more than 612,000 with 103,000 employees in the research area. Europe produces more than 35 % of the world's pharmaceutical output, worth some €161billion, making it the second manufacturing location after the US.

IMI brings together experts from the laboratory and the clinic working on new approaches to better predict as early as possible whether a drug works in a patient and whether it is safe. Earlier access to new treatments is the ultimate goal of this joint initiative.

IMI has a total budget of € 2 billion until 2013. In 2008 grants of € 123 million will be handed to the most promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. In future calls IMI will also cover cancer and infectious diseases. These areas have been chosen because they are, primarily, important areas of unmet medical need, affecting the lives of millions of European citizens.
More information on the Innovative Medicines Initiative including the calls for proposals:
More information on the Joint Technology Initiatives

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