The message is economics
The new man in the post also has more in store than just fronting for the cause. Top of the list of new priorities is finding
better ways to expand understanding of what the industry does and how it contributes to economic growth— to answer the simple
question of why it is worth it to governments and the public to have a strong biopharmaceutical industry in Europe. As Bergström
puts it: "There is a desire at senior levels within the industry to have better data that proves our value—to foster and shape
discussions that go wider than just the immediate budget problems of a Greece or Portugal."
EFPIA is nowadays invited to forward-looking meetings at senior levels in European politics, including the European Central
Bank and with finance ministers. This new financial dimension of its engagement is a result of the constant concern of governments
over how to carry out long-term reform of healthcare and pensions. "They want our views," says Bergström. "Not at the level
of the suitability of individual products, or even in HTA discussions of how to quantify the comparative advantages of one
product over another. Rather, the decision makers want input on how to deal with the really big systemic challenges. So we
need to have a better picture ourselves of how well healthcare systems are working, and how they need to adapt and evolve."
Bergström recognizes this is new territory for the industry. "Previously it was in many respects relatively easy for industry,
because we could just focus on seeking better prices for drugs, and didn't get involved in management of healthcare overall.
But this approach is no longer feasible. Every European or national discussion of economics covers health, and we thus have
to take that on board ourselves, because this is shaping the context in which we have to operate as a business."
EFPIA also needs to be able to answer strategic questions from Europe's economy ministers about how it can deliver value as
an exporting industry and as a high-tech generator of employment. "For this we are scrambling. We don't have good estimates
of the value the industry brings to the economy and society as a whole, including the contribution made by generics, for instance,
or the jobs and spinoffs brought by the smaller businesses that the industry supports."