Medicine as a strategic asset

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Spain stands out for its strong pharmaceutical industry. It has 174 production plants, of which 106 are dedicated to medicines for human use and 13 to biological products. This ecosystem generates 51,000 direct and indirect jobs, with pharmaceutical products being the third most exported good, with investments in innovation amounting to almost 1.4 billion euros. “The Spanish pharmaceutical industry has a great specific weight in Europe,” said Rebeca Mariola Torró, Secretary of State for Industry at a meeting organized by EL PAÍS and Farmaindustria. “We must also highlight three aspects that make the sector strategic: health, economic and social,” she added. This competitive advantage is essential in an increasingly connected world, in which autonomy in the production of medicines is essential. “When we talk about strategic autonomy, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is which of the two souls of this we want to respond to,” explained Javier Padilla, Secretary of State for Health. “There is an autarchic and security aspect that, in a war context, appeals to the need to rearm. But there is also another strategic part that tells us about the need to cooperate in a global context of interdependence,” she added. Spain is betting on this last aspect. “An example of the work we are doing is the commitment reached to establish the European Alliance for Critical Medicines, a consultative mechanism that brings together different actors in the sector and public administrations to identify action priorities and propose solutions that strengthen the supply of critical medicines throughout the region,” stressed Mariola Torró during the meeting entitled Strategic autonomy of medicines: the value of producing innovative medicines in Spain. With this new tool, an example of public-private collaboration, an essential step is being taken to revitalize the production capacities of critical drugs in Europe and ensure their supply through the diversification of suppliers, declared the Secretary of State. “This alliance, initially established for a period of five years, has selected 17 Spanish health companies as guarantors of the supply of essential drugs.”Rebeca Mariola Torró, Secretary of State for Industry. JUAN BARBOSA

Quality of life

“When we talk about drug availability, we must consider two different aspects: access to innovations and physical availability, that is, manufacturing. We all agree that pharmaceutical innovations improve the quality of life and survival of patients, being responsible for 73% of the increase in life expectancy in developed countries. Therefore, access to innovative drugs is crucial,” stressed Lidia Martín, vice president of Farmaindustria and general manager of Almirall. The pharmaceutical industry shows a tangible commitment to innovation and its accessibility. Currently, one in every five euros invested in R&D in Spain comes from the sector, said the industry representative. In addition, almost half of R&D projects are carried out in collaboration with institutions, universities and public-private entities. “Spain is a leader in the European Union in clinical trials, with 50 new molecules approved each year in Europe,” stressed Martín. However, only 58% of new innovations are authorized in Spain, and the process takes more than 600 days. “When it comes to hospital drugs, regional and hospital access times can exceed two years,” said Martín. The pharmaceutical industry’s strategic plan, in collaboration with the Government, seeks to resolve these problems by reforming the financing and pricing system. This involves establishing objective and predictable criteria, early access programs and streamlining public procurement processes in the hospital setting.Javier Padilla, Secretary of State for Health. Javier Padilla, Secretary of State for Health. JUAN BARBOSAIn terms of manufacturing, Spain is in a privileged position. Therefore, it is essential to ensure incentives, resources and adequate regulation to promote national production of drugs. “This not only has a positive economic impact, but is crucial for our strategic autonomy,” added the general manager of Almirall. In Spain, it is necessary to ensure that no one is left behind, ensuring access to medicines based on the reality of each person, always prioritizing the patient's needs and not just the disease, added Manuel Arellano, vice president of the Platform of Patient Organizations. Likewise, a key point is personalization. “In hematology, for example, each problem requires different treatments,” commented the expert. Faced with this reality, Arellano said that patient participation from the beginning of clinical trials is vital, as it can provide valuable knowledge throughout the process. Eva Sánchez Morla, a psychiatrist at the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital and associate professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, acknowledged that there is a significant difficulty in accessing and making available medications, especially those old and cheap drugs that have no therapeutic equivalents. This situation is very common in clinical practice and is usually discovered only after patients cannot access their medication. “This problem is especially critical in areas such as psychiatry, where some are irreplaceable,” she mentioned. The lack of these can lead to patients going to several pharmacies in vain, causing relapses that are costly for the patient, the family and society. In addition to the availability problem, there are also challenges in accessing new therapeutic innovations. “These new therapies are crucial for the treatment of complex and heterogeneous pathologies, which require a personalized approach. From a clinical point of view, we are concerned that these gaps in the availability of essential medicines can and should be resolved. Administrations must facilitate solutions so that health professionals can collaborate effectively in this process,» stressed Sánchez Morla. Follow all the information on Economy and Business on Facebook and Twitter. Xor in our weekly newsletter