Richard Bergström, EFPIA Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), issued an open letter inviting the Competitiveness Council in the European Union (EU) to establish a working group on big data in healthcare.
EFPIA consists of 33 European national pharmaceutical industry associations as well as the large research-based pharmaceutical companies. The Competitiveness Council (COMPET) is one of the policy configurations of the European Council of the European Union, which is charged with setting policy in the EU. COMPET works to enhance competitiveness and increase growth in the EU with a focus on four major policy areas: internal market, industry, research and innovation, and space. Depending on the agenda, COMPET brings together ministers responsible for trade, economy, industry, research and innovation, and space from all EU member states. Relevant European Commissioners also participate in meetings.
In calling for a working group on big data, EFPIA said in its letter: "Drawing on the expertise of health, research and industry ministries, the group could make a significant contribution to improving coordination and alignment of national and EU policy, advancing both Europe’s digital economy and its social agenda. Big data affords significant opportunities to advance patient care. It can help us understand how to better support patients right across the patient journey and deliver
truly personalized care."
The letter also pointed out that data generated through electronic patient records, clinical research and by patients can be used to address a number of the challenges faced by EU healthcare systems by increasing efficiency and effectiveness to show which interventions work and why to enable better patient outcomes as well as support better research and development.
"There are a number of challenges in realizing the potential of big data in healthcare," said EFPIA in its letter. "Industry is keen to work with stakeholders to address these." It pointed to work of the Innovative Medicines Initiative, the EFPIA, and the European Commission to advance the use of real-world data and the need for privacy in gathering and using that data. "One significant challenge is privacy regulation, particularly in the context of the re-use of data in research. We support the need to revise the European legislation and believe that the right balance of individual rights and support for the societal interest in research can be found, but we are not there yet. Ensuring the right regulatory infrastructure will be critical to Europe’s future in healthcare innovation."