“Patents are an essential reference for the division of innovative labor in the pharmaceutical field. We think of the multiplicity of research trajectories that have opened in the search for new effective vaccines against Covid-19. What other mechanism of stimulation of exploration under conditions of uncertainty would have allowed to obtain similar results? “. Thus Fabio Pammolli, full professor of Economics and Management at the Politecnico di Milano, speaking at the second meeting organized with the support of the Italian American Pharmaceutical Group (Iapg) and the European and Japanese Group of Farmindustria (EUNIpharma), entitled ‘Innovation in healthcare as a driving force for the country’s economic and social recovery’, during who discussed how to promote innovation and which economic, industrial and health policies can increase the attractiveness of our country for foreign investments in the pharmaceutical sector.
The pandemic – emerged from the webinar – has considerably increased the awareness of Italian institutions on the strategic importance of the pharmaceutical sector for our country. To seize these growth opportunities, this awareness must be translated into measures capable of improving the current governance of the pharmaceutical industry.
In the debate, the critical issues connected to therapeutic equivalence were recalled, with its negative repercussions on patent protection. But the real problem remains the chronic underfunding of pharmaceutical expenditure for direct purchases, which also increases the difficulty of access for patients to innovative therapies. Innovation and patent protection are also penalized by the current governance system of pharmaceutical spending. In fact, the payback system strongly impacts the expenditure for direct purchases in which almost all innovative drugs and those covered by patents are present.
Still on patents, Pammolli has no doubts: “Despite all the predictions of those who said that the patent system would block innovation, we have the opposite problem”. With advanced therapies, he points out, “we have proof that it is not true that patents are blocking innovation. Pharmaceutical innovation, on the contrary, is generating a host of opportunities and new solutions.”
And regarding the proposal of the former minister Lorenzin to transform the governance of Aifa, making it a regulatory agency capable of promoting research and science, the professor PolMi is more than favorable: “I believe that Aifa must modernize itself profoundly and soon ; I believe that the Directorates General of the Ministry of Health must also be deeply and soon modernized. I think that there is a profound gap between the quality of the regulation that is expressed by Aifa and the quality of the programming intervention of the Directorates General of the Ministry of Health, and the complexity of the events we are experiencing “.