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A Strong Pharma Focus Under TTIP Would Bring a Bounty of Socio-Economic Benefits to Denmark (Guest blog)


There is a no small amount of emotion attached to innovation in medicines, given the potential it offers to treat, alleviate and even cure medical conditions, including rare diseases. Yet equally important, and often understated, is its ability to realise socio-economic benefits via the twin generators of exports and job creation.

This is a vital issue for Denmark, which counts medicines as its greatest export commodity and for whom total exports in these products has doubled since 2007. In fact, the export value of medicines amounted to DKK 85.7bn in 2015, corresponding to 13.5% of all Danish exports. What’s more, the Danish Export Council has predicted that export of medicinal products is set to double yet again by 2020.

To underscore just how important the pharmaceutical industry is to the Danish economy, and its consequential positive impact on society, Denmark now holds the number two position globally in terms of the number of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry per capita, surpassed only by Switzerland.

Equally impressive is the fact that, since 2000, the pharmaceutical industry has been the only net job creating industry in Denmark, almost doubling its number of employees over this period. In total, it now employs over 26,500 people directly and indirectly is responsible for some 90,000 Danish jobs.

The domestic benefits are clear, but these could not be achieved without a successful export drive. In this respect, the US counts as by far the most important export market, generating some DKK 24.8bn for the Danish pharmaceutical industry in 2015, or around 46% of total Danish exports to the US. In fact, more than 90% of the increase in Danish goods exports to the US since 2000, can be attributed to the pharmaceutical industry.

Against this backdrop, the importance of TTIP cannot be underestimated. A TTIP agreement with an ambitious pharmaceutical chapter could strengthen even further Denmark’s export success.

This potential has been highlighted in a recent study undertaken by Copenhagen Economics, which estimates that a successful TTIP agreement would increase pharmaceutical exports alone from Denmark to the US by approximately DKK 3bn – constituting almost half of the predicted DKK 8bn in estimated, additional, total exports. Moreover, the same study estimates that TTIP will create 1500 additional export-related jobs in Denmark – 650 of these new jobs will be employed directly within the pharmaceutical industry.

Progress in the negotiations towards securing mutual recognition of good manufacturing inspections is also being made within the TTIP framework – a development that can only be welcomed. This could eliminate duplicative inspections, which are resource-intensive for both authorities and companies.

Despite these obvious benefits, issues remain that need to be addressed if we want TTIP to reflect the ambition of the pharmaceutical sector and the benefits the agreement can bring to society and to patients.

For example, the US and European authorities have different requirements for paediatric studies, and companies often have to enter into parallel and lengthy discussions with the authorities before their studies are approved. As a result, more children than necessary may need to be involved in clinical trials.

If we can arrive at a common framework, format and time-lines on both sides of the Atlantic, we can cut the number of clinical trials in which children are involved, the authorities can avoid duplication, and new, innovative drugs will reach patients faster.

Our industry would also like to ensure that the high levels of intellectual property protection and enforcement, maintained currently on both sides of the Atlantic, continue under TTIP. It is essential to underscore that these are the very foundations of our knowledge economy, and are prerequisite for or ability to develop innovation treatments for the benefit of patients. A strong IP regime under TTIP would help ensure a high standard in future free trade agreements with third party countries.

A strong TTIP agreement will generate jobs and stimulate growth in Denmark, but to achieve this, we need continued focus on an ambitious pharmaceutical chapter, and a commitment to streamlining the regulations between the EU and US, for the benefit of patients worldwide.

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