Europe moves to reclaim center stage

In Europe, venture money is typically harder to come by than in the U.S., but the continent still has some of the best scientific talent on the planet, often working at academic institutions that make groundbreaking discoveries a routine performance.

From a drug developer's perspective, Europe's single-payer systems have cast a constant shadow over earnings potential. But the pall hasn't stopped the industry in its tracks. If anything, the market obstacles have been spurring innovators to become more creative. That could be seen in the recent deal by Johnson & Johnson to guarantee the effectiveness of Velcade. And more recently there was a pact to include cost effectiveness in a late-stage trial for UK regulators. Given the focus on value-based medicine, where payers on both sides of the Atlantic are stepping up their demands on these expensive new therapies, this is one trend that won't be going away anytime soon. In fact, you can expect payers in the U.S. to pay particularly close attention and start issuing their own demands.

Anxious to revive drug development work in the continent, the industry has successfully pushed through one of the largest public/private initiatives the world has seen in drug discovery. Europeans are on the verge of authorizing a €2 billion partnership with pharma designed to fuel academic and industry research over the next seven years. The Innovative Medicines Initiative is expected to speed testing on safety and efficacy, the Holy Grail of goals among developers. This partnership could help open the tap of funds that would fuel the swift advance of the European biotechnology industry.

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