How Germany's next government can harness innovation and improve lives
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 coming four years present opportunities to drive forward European leadership in health.
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).
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, and since 2021 every individual in the German healthcare network has had a digital health file.
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.
 PWC, Economic and societal footprint of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, June 2019.
 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/
In sickness and in health: the enduring transatlantic partnership
The transatlantic economy is the largest, most prosperous and most innovative of its kind in the world—and it continues to grow. Foreign direct investment (FDI), the true measure of the EU-US partnership, has reached new heights over the past decade. One measure of the investment relationship—the combined output of US affiliates in the EU and EU affiliates in the US—totalled $1.4 trillion in 2019—more than the output of most countries.
Choosing the best path for the Pharmaceutical Strategy
The EU Pharmaceutical Strategy represents a real opportunity for patients, innovation and the European Commission. Just as the pandemic has brought immense challenges for Europe, it has also thrown into relief some valuable lessons that we can now use to lay solid foundations in support of the Strategy’s stated aim: to improve and accelerate patients’ access to safe and affordable medicines, and to support innovation in the EU pharmaceutical industry.
The time is right for an evolution in digital health policy
Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, and is naturally focused on tackling the pandemic and economic recovery. Nevertheless, innovation in the domain of digital health has remained high on the agenda. This is because the shift to new digital technologies, if managed correctly, can have a transformative and hugely positive effect on healthcare provision and the economy in Europe.