The votes have been cast and now talks between the parties will determine the coalition that will lead Germany for the next four years.

The challenges facing Germany’s new government are significant – not least dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which presents new and evident burdens.

Our public health infrastructure is at risk and the lessons learned from the pandemic must be applied but so too does the importance of intellectual property (IP) incentives; and how helpful smart digitalisation of health-related data can be.

These COVID-19 lessons can certainly be implemented in Germany, but the pandemic has shown that the next government should work towards collectively implementing the lessons throughout Europe. Both the potential and resilience of our health systems depend on it.

Innovation leadership at a global level

Twenty-five years ago, Europe was the global leader in medical innovation. Today, its share is only 25 per cent (lagging behind the USA with a share of 47 per cent).[1]

A stable, innovation-friendly framework for healthcare will strengthen research and development, accelerate innovation and ensure Europe remains at the forefront of medical research.

Appropriate incentives and IP infrastructure

Pursuing real innovation in the healthcare sector is time-consuming, complex, expensive, and risky. Protecting IP and providing incentives for medical research are both essential, enabling pillars of this task. Both are vital if the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Europe and our healthcare systems are to continue to be world-leading.

Introducing restrictions – whether related to supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), regulatory data protection (RDP), orphan drugs or drugs specifically approved for children – will weaken the ability of this dynamic industry in Germany and Europe to deliver ground-breaking innovation. It could consequently lead to further displacement of research to other markets. An unwavering commitment to maintaining current IP rules is key.

An efficient and secure infrastructure for health data

A wave of digitalization in healthcare is opening up many opportunities for more efficient and effective use of public and private resources. Smart digitalization is improving the quality of therapeutic treatments, preventive health measures and medical research.

Germany has introduced the world’s first scheme through which doctors can prescribe digital health applications (DiGAs) as part of a patients’ treatment plan,[2] and since 2021 every individual in the German healthcare network has had a digital health file.[3]

But the intelligent exchange of information should support more in-depth collaboration between stakeholders. Scaling this up to create a joint European Health Data Space would provide new options, such as for the design of clinical trials and for the real-world assessment of medicines and medical devices in the lives of patients.

Before we can get there, a transparent and forward-looking attitude to data protection is a must. The next German government must encourage innovation to enable a superior healthcare service focussed on patients’ needs. An open-minded approach to health data that fully exploits the potential of digitalisation would provide benefits for millions of citizens in Germany and Europe.

The coming four years of the new Bundestag term creates new opportunities for Germany, and also for Europe, to demonstrate its global leadership in health. An innovative future means modernising our health systems under a European umbrella and bringing progress to patients. An innovative pharmaceutical industry is clearly a part of this future, and Lilly is
dedicated to growing our business in responsible and sustainable ways that better people’s lives and benefit society.

Now is the moment to come together to make the right choices and set the focus on our key industries.

[1] PWC, Economic and societal footprint of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, June 2019.

[2] Digital Health Applications (DiGAs) - EXTERNAL: Digital-Health-Applications

[3] New German digital project paves the way for online access to personal electronic health records (2021) BMJ Opinion, https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/02/18/new-german-digital-project-paves-the-way-for-online-access-to-personal-electronic-health-records/