In a time when much health industry focus is on the European Commission’s Health Directorate, DG SANCO, EU Commissioner for Research Máire Geoghegan-Quinn chose Covidien’s 20 year celebration of their Galway, Ireland, facility (congratulations to all at Covidien) to emphasise again the value of the Medical Technology industry to Europe and the huge policy and funding support that she and her Directorate, DG Research, provide to the sector.
The numbers are impressive. The current 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) is investing approximately €750 million in projects in the field of Medical Technologies, with roughly equal contributions (around €250 million) from the “Health” theme, the “Nanotechnology and Materials” theme, and the Information and Communication Technology Programme. These collaborative European research projects cover a broad range of technologies from imaging, radiotherapy, nanotechnology, e-health and telemedicine to diagnostics, and new therapeutic tools and approaches. Future programmes (FP8) will be even larger.
It doesn’t end there. It is Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn who is behind the latest, and probably best, initiative so far to break the ‘silo’ mentality that plagues innovation in medical technology. Her recently announced Innovation Union initiative seeks to tackle such innovation bottlenecks head-on. This initiative will see action at the highest level, with European Commission President Barroso and Heads of EU Governments seeking to remove bottlenecks which stop good ideas from reaching the market. It is inconceivable that among the many programmes that Eucomed has submitted into this initiative there is not one ‘poster child’ that makes it as plain as day to Prime Ministers that ‘silo budgeting’ in healthcare systems is a thing of the past and that they must instruct their ministries of finance and ministries of health to champion different, innovation-focused solutions to the efficient and effective provision of health services.
And it still doesn’t end there. Quietly and calmly at the end of the Commissioner’s speech at Covidien’s state-of-the-art facility, she announced that she will champion “…’smarter regulation’ that enables us to drive innovation, including the improvement of the rules for clinical trials and testing, and fast-track assessment procedures for new devices…”. This fits directly with Eucomed’s contacts with the Commission calling for an even smarter and more efficient regulatory approval process for needed innovative medical technology within the ‘Recast’. It seems that we are being listened to.
It is clear that DG Research has looked at and sees the positive socio-economic value of innovation in health technology and is actively fostering growth in this industry. Hence the timing couldn’t be better for Eucomed’s reinvigorated efforts in working with Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and her staff at DG Research. Roll on FP8!
– John Brennan, Eucomed Director Regulatory and Technical Affairs