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  1. OPTIMA Pharma
30 November 2010

The Pharma Industry’s Search for a New Balance

The pharmaceutical industry has come under intense cost-saving pressure. At the same time, innovation efforts must not and should not be put on hold, as progress in medicine often means pharmaceutical progress. This situation confronts suppliers with a real challenge. Intelligent approaches, however, succeed in guaranteeing safety with simultaneous cost advantages.

The issues are significant: the demographic problems of an ageing society, the political will to integrate socially weaker population groups into a publicly funded health care system, and cost-efficient health care in the Third World. We witness a struggle of pharmaceutical manufacturers and international health care systems for a new financial balance. ‘Cost reduction’ is a medicine that is proving hard to swallow in the pharmaceutical industry. It does not help matters much that the media have discovered the ‘health industry’ as a money machine that allegedly operates in non-compliance under the governments’ continuation permit so far. As patent protection and profits in the billion dollar range of the pharmaceutical companies are a favourite in the media headlines, this notion has quickly become a public perception.

The health industry is strongly regulated, so that its players can hardly escape political scrutiny. In this discussion, it is easy to lose sight of the constantly growing tasks and challenges pharmaceutical enterprises are confronted with. Medical progress is often based on pharmaceutical research. Of course, research takes place in the own best interest of the pharma industry. But certain frame conditions still have to be in place. The long lead times for research and approval are commonly known but neglected in this political discussion and media coverage.

The abundance of safety requirements represents another challenge. The health and safety of patients and employees in pharmaceutical production have top priority. In this context, governments once again exert decisive authority. Authorities like the American FDA and the European health authorities have great influence on the design of pharmaceutical processes. From the ethical and moral point of view, this is self-evident. The self-evident approach, however, not only has to be enforced but also financed. This, by the way, also applies to safety technologies for preventing counterfeiting or selling counterfeited drugs.

Barrier technologies are an important factor for the protection and safety of patients and employees. And although cost considerations are a standard aspect of planning a pharmaceutical process chain, compromises regarding safety are unacceptable. Suppliers and partners of the pharmaceutical industry see themselves as problem solvers in this field of competing interests. They support the pharmaceutical industry in realising safe technologies and cost advantages by developing and realising intelligent and simultaneously stable processes.

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