The BioMed Alliance was appointed as a member of the European Commission’s HERA Civil Society Forum. The Forum, as a sub-group of the HERA Advisory Forum, will help to ensure that HERA receives regular input on the views and expertise of the civil society stakeholders. The BioMed Alliance will serve as a liaison between HERA and our members.

The European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) is a key pillar of the European Health Union and will fill a gap in the EU's health emergency response and preparedness. It was launched as a European Commission Directorate-General in 2021. The instrument anticipates threats and potential health crises, through intelligence gathering and building the necessary response capacities.

Towards a European Health Union: Role of the BioMed Alliance

Axel Pries Biomed 031

Dear Friends and Colleagues in the BioMed Alliance,

May be, you allow me to start with a provocative question: Why are you investing time and energy into the BioMed Alliance? There is no money in it, little glory and a lot of work!

I guess that for most of us there are two main reasons, which are closely linked: A very friendly and synergistic group drives the BioMed Alliance – and that is done on the basis of a common goal:

Improve health provision throughout Europe and for all medical disciplines based on excellent health research.  

That leads us without any delay to the actual efforts to establish a European Health Union. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that European coordination and cooperation in health and biomedical research are vital. It was obvious that Europe has a very large potential with respect to biomedical research, innovation, transfer and medical treatment.

But the crisis has also shed a spotlight on the fact that we have a substantial problem in coordination of our efforts and in the optimal use of our resources. This is true in science and research and in the medical field – and especially at the interface between both areas, the translation. Translation is exactly the domain of the member societies of the BioMed Alliance representing over 400.000 researchers, physicians and health professionals in Europe. It is the daily business of all these societies to learn from new scientific insights, to disseminate knowledge, to foster new medical developments and to look far ahead in science based education and planning. It is also clear to all members of these societies that the medical entities they address day in day out do not respect borders or national regulations. They know that medical problems tend to be hard to fight and that success requires sustained efforts, often over decades!

It is our task in Europe to generate optimal mechanisms to deal with the fundamental international nature of diseases, science and medical treatment options in the framework of the political and organizational structure of the EU. The diversity of backgrounds, approaches and concepts in Europe provides for a very rich environment of excellence and ideas. The increasing international standing of European science reflects this. However, this positive diversity should not lead to a fragmentation of resources. The inclusive democratic control processes of the EU should not prevent sustained and coordinated initiatives in research and translation.  

The Framework and Horizon programmes of the EU are by far the most significant transnational funding schemes in Europe. They bring together scientists and researchers from all countries. Nevertheless, they usually do not support the sustained efforts needed to address the most severe questions in medical science. There is always the danger of a ‘flash in the pan’ instead of the continuous development towards real solutions for large problems.

In the current discussion triggered by the CoVid Pandemic the European ‘Health Emergency Response Authority’ (HERA) was established, and is in part addressing the weaknesses described above. HERA is certainly necessary to fight future health emergencies, but it is not sufficient to unleash Europe’s potential in the field of biomedical research, translation and treatment. Its focus is on ‘Health Emergencies’ that represent only a relatively small sector of the entire medical requirements. 

The BioMed Alliance has long argued for the foundation of a broader coordinating body in Europe, tentatively named ‘European Council for Health’. The European Council for Health should bring together stakeholders from civil society, industry and politics under a scientific leadership and initiate and coordinate the entire translational spectrum reaching from basic research to innovative medical solutions in prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The European Council for Health would be a central pillar for a European Health Union by making health research and health provision in Europe more equal and more effective. Let’s work together effectively for a European Health Union by taking the responsibility for Health for all. This is a good reason to invest time and energy into the BioMed Alliance.

With my best regards

Axel R Pries

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3 DAYS - 100 NATIONS - 300 SPEAKERS - 6,000 PARTICIPANTS - BERLIN & DIGITAL

The annual World Health Summit took place from 24-26 October and included a series of interesting sessions with keynote speakers like Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Minister Jens Spahn, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and many more.

The BioMed Alliance organised a session on Sunday 24 October at 11.00: Europe: Follower or Leader in Health Research and Innovation? The session was chaired by BioMed Alliance President Wilfried Ellmeier and featured prominent speakers including Dr. Özlem Türeci (Chief Medical Officer BioNTech), Jan-Philipp Beck (CEO EIT Health), Jan Geissler (CEO Patvocates), Prof. Karin Sipido (KU Leuven) and Robert Madelin (Chairman FIPRA). Discussions dove into the research and innovation landscape in Europe, persisting challenges and what Europe must do to position itself as a frontrunner in Biomedical and Translational research.

The European Commission has recently published its Communication on the new Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA) which is supposed to be established within the Commission and start operations early 2022. The BioMed Alliance welcomes the plans to establish HERA, but also raises certain concerns and needs for clarification in a new statement.  In the document, medical societies highlight the need for better involvement of the scientific community, more extensive communication to stakeholders and the public and a good budgetary balance between HERA development and the realisation of other important health priorities.

Read the statement here

HERA 2

The BioMed Alliance and EU health Coalition expressed their concerns about the proposed budget cuts for European research funding.

The European Council met 17-21 July and proposed to reduce the financial envelope for the implementation of the Horizon Europe programme for the period 2021-2027 to €80.9 billion. EU leaders also decided to cut the budget of the new Health Programme, EU4Health, by almost €8 billion to €1.6 billion.

The BioMed Alliance and its partners outlined how the proposed cuts may hinder health research in two EU health coalition statements; one right before the summit asking for an appropriate budget and one after expressing concern about the proposed budget cuts.

The European Parliament still has to approve the agreement before it is finalised.

An open letter to the European Commission signed by 48 Members of the European Parliament and a large number of health stakeholders (including BioMed Alliance) calls for strengthened leadership that addresses silos in health research.  The letter was published on 9 July and highlights the value of biomedical research while stressing the need for a more coordinated European approach to health research.

MEP Dr. Petra de Sutter (GREENS/EFA, Belgium) initiated the letter, and the BioMed Alliance office supported her and her staff in finalising and promoting it. The letter argues that the COVID-19 crisis demonstrated that a coordinated response to health challenges requires prior planning and a long-term commitment based on a comprehensive vision. This can be driven by a credible body, in the form of a European Health Research Council.

The full letter is available here.

Pic letter 2

BioMed Alliance Board Member Berthold Koletzo, Loredana Simulescu (BioMed Alliance) and Mathilde Ollivier (UEG) have published an article in the United European Gastroenterology Journal explaining how joining forces is essential to strengthen European health research. They highlight the successes of cross-border health research and European funding programmes, explain how Horizon Europe is structured, stress the need for adequate funding and outline the activities of the BioMed Alliance.

The entire article is available here.

20 04 20

On 31 January, the BioMed Alliance organised a joint workshop with the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) on the Future of European Health Research. The workshop took place in the European Parliament and both European policy makers and researchers held a series of interesting presentations on health research.

The report of the workshop is available here

The "European initiatives for health research and development” workshop was held at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Sunday 29th October 2019. The workshop was hosted by the BioMed Alliance, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the M8 Alliance. The report summarises the speakers’ perspectives and views on the future design of European health research and global partnerships.

More info here

The BioMed Alliance has joined thousands of academics, European organisations and Nobel-prize winners in signing an open letter calling on the Commission to revise the new job title of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to include a reference to research. The Board of Directors fully supports the initiative to request changing her official title to ‘Commissioner for Education, Research, Innovation and Youth’ as they consider that this better reflects the broad portfolio of the Commissioner.

The BioMed Alliance believes that research is vital to European wellbeing and prosperity and that its importance should be recognised by continuing including the word research in the job title of the Commissioner that is responsible for this policy area.

More information about this initiative is available here: http://www.futureofresearch.eu

eu health summit news

The EU health coalition published a new statement calling for a balanced Horizon Europe that fosters both research and innovation and supports cross-fertilisation and collaboration across the framework programme’s pillars and clusters. As leader of the Coalition’s research and innovation group, the BioMed Alliance played an important role in drafting the statement.

In light of the open consultation on Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan, the BioMed Alliance and its partners call for a balanced approach which ensures cross-fertilisation and coordination across all relevant disciplines. This is particularly important in health research as this can benefit from efforts in multiple clusters and programmes.

Read the full statement here

Ahead of the European Council Meeting (20-21 June), the BioMed Alliance calls upon Member States to adopt a Multiannual Financial Framework as well as a Horizon Europe budget which echo Europe’s ambition for innovation in research

Read the statement here

The Biomedical Alliance in Europe produced a statement outlining the practical consequences of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on health research. While the overarching purpose of the regulation is commendable, in practice researchers experience that its implementation hinders health research.

BioMed Alliance statement on Data protection Regulation

Scientific communities from industry and academia through the Biomedical Alliance in Europe (BioMed Alliance) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) have teamed up to address the gaps within the translational research ecosystem and call for more focus and funding for translational research and pan European mechanisms for coordination and implementation

Read the joint statement here

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