Swedish life science in political focus

It feels like 2017 will be a good year for Swedish life science, says Anders Blanck, CEO at LIF.

It goes without saying that it is better to be seen as interesting and to be cared about, than to be disregarded as uninteresting and without value.

With regard to the life science sector, we are in Sweden today – thankfully! – in the former position. Companies are indeed as always in a competitive battle for market access and market share to be able to deliver life-saving innovations to patients and the publicly funded health care. But they are doing this in a much changed environment as compared to, say, ten years ago. Life science as such and also companies in this sector are now at a focal point of political interest.

This interest manifests itself in a number of processes.

The life science coordinator, Anders Lönnberg, is a key player. His remit has been prolonged and enlarged several times. The government has also pointed to life science as a key sector for future growth and welfare by dedicating one of the so called collaboration programs for life science.

Another sign of the importance that the government attaches to the sector is the prominent place, yes the outright focus specifically on life science that is evident in last autumn’s long term Research and innovation bill.
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Not that such an interest is surprising. Academia and companies are together in the midst of fundamentally changing health care in many therapeutic areas; cancer being just one of them. Pipelines are promising, and the economic footprint of the sector is gradually being acknowledged after having been underrated and under-appreciated for many years.

So – what to expect of 2017 for the sector? LIF has lobbied for a governmental office for life sciences, based on the UK example. It would be an even more forceful actor in gathering all the loose ties and focusing efforts to build a stronger Swedish life science. And of course we attach high hope to the secretariat that has been instigated to secure that the EMA is moved to Stockholm-Uppsala. A positive outcome of the EMA decision has the potential to strengthen the Swedish life science cluster like no other single intervention.

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In the meantime, we should focus our attention to the rules of the game for the Swedish pharmaceutical market. In order to be a highly competitive life science nation, Sweden needs a financing model – as well as pricing and reimbursement models – that ensures that patients get early access to innovative treatments, at the same time as it delivers predictability for both payers and companies. The present model has been around for 15 years now, and the pharmaceutical market has radically changed since then.

The newly instigated government review under Toivo Heinsoo is therefore much welcomed, and it has a vitally important role in making the relevant analysis and proposing how a modern system for financing, pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals should look like.

It feels like 2017 will be a good year for Swedish life science.



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