Incentivising Pharmaceutical Off-Patent Innovation in the EU (cepInput)


Anti-inflammatories and antipyretics that have been tried and tested for decades, such as dexamethasone or remdesivir, play an important role in the fight against Corona. They are intended to reduce mortality in hospitals. This is possible because the patents on many old pharmaceuticals are expiring. Off-patent drugs can be highly effective in treating completely different diseases.


While in the USA the immense economic potential of so-called off-patent drugs has long been exploited, not only in the fight against Corona, the European Union is lagging behind. "This lack of off-patent pharmaceutical innovation is hard to understand. Europe is giving away an important medical tool and potential billions in profits," says economist Victor Warhem of the think tank Centrum for European Policy (cep) in Paris, who has analysed the potential of off-patent medicines.

"The EU should use the newly established UK system as a basis for an off-patent medicines framework," the cep expert demands. According to Warhem, unlike the EU, the United Kingdom (UK) allows industry to benefit from public funding and the removal of marketing authorisation restrictions. "Industry is best placed to generate off-patent pharmaceutical innovation," says Warhem.

Although the EU has already launched a number of programmes, such as Horizon Europe, the funding opportunities available so far are not designed to give companies the precise opportunity to grant market protection to repurposed medicines. "As far as market protection is concerned, the EU should look to the USA as a model," Warhem emphasises.