Sport is a huge part of European culture. It is one of the few things that can unite us and sometimes divides us. It can be a source of great passion and excitement, joy even sorrow, I know, I support Sweden. To many millions of Europeans, sport and the people we follow, watch and cheer for are important.
That is why EFPIA is pleased to join forces with other industry associations in the fight against doping. Just as some of the medicines developed by our industry have been diverted for illicit, illegal use in sport, so the innovative science and expertise of the pharmaceutical industry can be an invaluable asset in the fight against doping in sport.
Cutting edge technologies like the identification of biomarkers, data collection, pharmacovigilance, patient compliance and analytical tools, advances in genomics and the use of stem cells save patient lives everyday, but we hope they can also enable the fight against doping.
Unfortunately, the latest trend among doped athletes is to use medicines that are still in development. This is to avoid the assays set up by WADA. So EFPIA is working with other industry associations to complement activities of its member companies and the IFPMA. In particular, it will be important to “embed” WADA and the anti-doping community in the industry’s R&D efforts so that new doping agents can be picked up much earlier.
Our role will be to facilitate collaboration with, and access to the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the world’s biggest public private partnership for health. IMI is a collaboration between EFPIA, its members and the European Union providing a framework and funding for public /private consortia to address unmet medical needs. It can deliver tools for research that optimise translation of new science, technology and knowledge into healthcare products that deliver solutions for patients. It is just the kind of research and development that could make a real difference to the anti-doping effort.
That is why we are delighted that WADA and the Innovative Medicines Initiative are developing a Memorandum of Understanding that will inform the development of future research topics and regulatory discussions as well as facilitate the sharing of information in a safe harbour.
Doping rocks our confidence in sport and in those that play it. It can strip away all the values that have been the building blocks of fair, competitive sport over the generations. I am delighted that EFPIA is taking the next step in the fight to take doping out of sport.1