Country Report: Austria - Pharmaceutical Executive


Country Report: Austria

Pharmaceutical Executive


János Filakovszky, Vice President, Quintiles Eastern Holdings GmbH
The clinical trials environment is generally considered quite attractive in Austria. While capital invested in clinical trials only amounts to between EUR 200-400 million (USD 271-542 million), and the number of trials performed annually has declined in recent years, the reason it is generally attractive is its efficiency. As PHARMIG's Jan Huber states, "Physicians, ethics commissions and legal bodies here work in a very professional and timely manner." If a company needs to perform clinical trials in a setting that allows the company to get a product on the market faster without compromising on quality, then Austria is a shining example in comparison to its fellow European counterparts.

Martin Hagenlocher, Managing Director, and Senior Bayer Representative South East Europe, Bayer Austria GmbH
János Filakovszky, vice president of Quintiles Eastern Holdings, noted that this is also due to "the very favorable regulatory environment and a well-regulated clinical research industry. Austria usually obtains regulatory approvals before most European countries." This is beneficial not only to clinical research organizations but also major pharmaceutical companies that invest in this kind of research, such as Bayer, which conducts a number of Phase II-IV trials in Austria. Bayer Austria managing director and senior Bayer representative for South East Europe, Martin Hagenlocher, notes that "the country has high quality research institutes, university clinics, and the hospitals outside of universities have very high standards and qualified personnel to run clinical studies. There is a good base for clinical research in Austria combined with reasonable support from government."

Klaus Fischer, CEO, Assign Clinical Research GmbH
There are some minor limitations. Austria's population consists of approximately eight and a half million people, and thus obtaining a high number of patients for a clinical trial for one disease can be quite difficult in comparison to countries with larger populations. As Klaus Fischer, CEO of Austrian contract research organization Assign Group, points out, sometimes only a dozen patients will have a certain disease in Austria's largest hospital. "If you want to demonstrate efficacy, safety and quality, you need 400-1000 patients and this would take an extremely long time in Austria. In China there are hospitals with thousands of patients with such conditions. If you want to have those diseases treated, you have to go to those hospitals where treatment is offered."

While there may be a number of hospitals in Austria that offer treatment, these hospitals may be spread across the country, thus making Austria a rather decentralized environment for conducting such trials. "In order to obtain patients," Fischer continues, "you have to talk to many smaller potential study centers and this is an additional cost factor in clinical studies. This is also recognized by pharmaceutical companies. If you know the right study centers, then you can compete against larger recruiting countries with larger populations."

The pharmaceutical industry in Austria, while growing slowly, is still ahead of many of its European counterparts simply because of this growth. The quality of healthcare, innovation, and drugs themselves are extremely high, and there is certainly a positive feeling and direction within the Austrian pharmaceutical community. While not the biggest market in Europe, the collaboration between the industry and academia, as well as private and public partnerships, makes Austria a particularly favorable and exciting place to work. As Papanikolaou notes, "Personal relations tend to be very important in Austria. Even if what you are offering does not match entirely with customer expectations, they will be satisfied at the end of the day because of the relationship management involved. Austrians are a little bit more flexible in both thinking and working. There is usually only one way to cross a river — but Austrians can find several!"


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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