To: Mr. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Cc: Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
       Permanent Representations to the EU

4th December 2017

Open letter in reaction to Council Conclusions “From the Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020 towards the 9th Framework Programme”

As civil society organisations working on access to medicines and public health, we support the EU’s continued investment in research and innovation (R&I) in the area of health.

We welcome the Council Conclusions on the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 towards the 9th Framework Programme (FP9) where Member States acknowledge that EU R&I is essential not only “for ensuring long-term sustainable economic growth, industrial competitiveness”, but also for “social inclusion and addressing the major societal challenges, e.g. as defined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”. Member States call for establishing “a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework with a set of indicators” and to broaden “the definition of impact to take into account the diversity of contributions of R&I to knowledge and society”. Furthermore, the Conclusions highlight that R&I partnerships “should be implemented based on the principles of EU added value, transparency, openness, impact” and that Open Science “has a crucial role in boosting impact and transparency of R&I, and bringing science and society closer together”.

However, we note with concern that, currently, the public interest is not sufficiently promoted in EU health R&I investments through Horizon 2020. Many leading experts and governments – including EU Member States – have highlighted the need to improve the way public biomedical R&I funding is managed in order to ensure public return on public investment. In particular, the Council Conclusions on strengthening the balance in the pharmaceutical systems, adopted in June 2016, call for the consideration of conditions such as equitable licensing to ensure a fair return on investment for publicly funded research (para. 44).

As the European Commission is preparing its proposal for FP9, this is a unique opportunity for the Commission to take into consideration these recommendations and implement policies which increase the social impact of medical R&I by ensuring access to affordable and effective health technologies that respond to public health needs.

Therefore, we call on the Commission to increase the social impact of its medical R&I investments and generate more significant public return in FP9 by:

  1. Ensuring that public investment is met with complete transparency regarding the costs of research, development and production of medicinal products, so that public investment can be reflected in the price of the end product.
  2. Measuring the social impact of public funding for R&I by developing SMART indicators which will assess the impact of R&I funding in FP9 on health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. Funding biomedical R&I initiatives that focus on unmet public health needs and lead to biomedical products with added therapeutic value.  
  4. Attaching equitable access conditions to public funding in health R&I to ensure public return on public investment and affordable access to health technologies resulting from EU R&I funds.
  5. Linking open access and open data requirements to publicly funded research to ensure that knowledge gained with the support of public funding is openly available to researchers and the wider public.

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, call on the European Commission to seize this opportunity to make EU R&I more relevant for citizens by ensuring that R&I policies financed by EU taxpayers contribute to the public good.

List of signatories

  1. Access to Medicines Ireland
  2. Altroconsumo, associazione indipendente di consumatori (Italy)
  3. BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation
  4. BUKO Pharma-Kampagne (Germany)
  5. Center for Research on Multinational Corporations – SOMO
  6. Commons Network
  7. EKPIZO-Consumer Association the Quality of Life (Greece)
  8. European Public Health Alliance – EPHA
  9. France Assos Santé (France)
  10. Global Health Advocates
  11. Global Justice Now
  12. Health Action International – HAI
  13. Just Treatment (UK)
  14. Médicins sans Frontières Access Campaign
  15. OCU-Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (Spain)
  16. PRAKSIS (Greece)
  17. Prescrire
  18. Salud por Derecho (Spain)
  19. SPARC Europe
  21. Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats (Belgium)
  22. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) – Europe
  23. Wemos (Netherlands)

Viviana Galli, European Alliance for Responsible R&D and Affordable Medicines,
Marine Ejuryan, Global Health Advocates,

Download the open letter