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A Comparative Study of the European Pharmaceutical Industry Essay

Having healthy citizens is vital to the development of a country. Introducing effective and new methods of using drugs is the key to the improvement of an individual’s quality of life, which could minimize the amount of confinement and medical intervention (House of Commons 2005: 3). In the economy of Great Britain, the pharmaceutical industry is the third most viable income generator next to tourism and finance. Although the United States is still the leader as far as the pharmaceuticals industry is concerned, the United Kingdom remains as the vanguard of the industry in Europe.

It constitutes 10% of pharmaceutical research & development costs in the world. According to estimates, the United Kingdom funds 65% of all health-related research & development (House of Commons 2005: 3). The State of European Pharmaceutical Industry Since the 19th century, the pharmaceuticals industry has been the vanguard of the European industry, providing the biggest contribution to the European trade balance in the field of high technology and research & development. However, when compared to the United States, the pharmaceutical industry would find itself in the losing end (Gambardella. Orsenigo and Pammolli 2000: 1).

During the last twenty years, the industry has been marked with vital changes in its structure as a result of technological and institutional shocks that had a great impact on its value chain. Consequently, this paved the way for changes in the firms’ composition as well as in the structure of the market in both regional and global perspective (Gambardella. Orsenigo and Pammolli 2000: 1). At the onset of the 1990s, the American and European market were on equal footing dominating about one-third of the pharmaceutical market in the world.

However, the United States has steadily increased to 50% with the European industry lagging behind at 21%. Aside from that, many drug manufacturers based in Europe have transferred their research & development facility to the United States. According to Mark McCllelan, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States constitute 50% of global pharmaceutical industry (Silverthorne 2003). Trends on the Pharmaceutical Industry In 1998, the industry size for pharmaceutical products was pegged at $310 billion and increased to $335 billion a year later.

There are two kinds of pharmaceutical products being sold in the market; namely, prescription-based and over-the-counter medicines. Approximately 60% of global pharmaceutical sales accounts are devoted on the former, with the remaining 40% devoted on the latter (Harris n. d. ). Most of the global sales generated by the industry came from U. S. -based pharmaceutical companies. In 1999, the industry had a projected income of $140 billion wherein 65% of sales come from domestic operations and the remaining 35% from foreign clients. In the United States, pharmaceutical expenditures as part of overall cost of health care have increased from 4. % to 7. 2% since 1985 (Harris n. d. ).

The United States comprises 40% of global pharmaceutical sales, followed by Europe and Japan at 32% and 24%, respectively. Other countries comprise 4% of worldwide sales as the industry is expected to pick up in developing countries (Harris n. d. ). A series of studies have found that Europe is way behind the United States in the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, in 2000, Alfonso Gambardella, Luigi Orsenigo, and Fabio Pammolli conducted a study focusing on the competitiveness of Europe’s pharmaceutical sector (cited in Kobelt 2006: 3).

For this study, the authors used several indicators such as “patent application, approved new molecular entities (NMEs), research expenditure, science provided by universities, and marker share” (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000 cited in Kobelt 2006: 3). It was revealed that when it comes to exports and consumption, the United States has already surpassed Europe. This is the key to the implementation of the G-10 review process (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000 cited in Kobelt 2006: 3).

In addition, a study conducted by Oliver Schoffski (2002) discovered two points that favor the American pharmaceutical industry in the aspect of marketing and research investment (cited in Kobelt 2006: 3). According to Schoffski (2002), there is a huge difference between the dynamics of the market of the various European Union countries with that of the United States on the aspect of introducing a new drug to the market (cited in Kobelt 2006: 3). The study concludes that these structural differences are the reason for the pronounced market dynamics of the American pharmaceutical industry when compared with Europe.

According to the study, the US pharmaceutical industry is more attractive than the European market because of its advanced “scientific and entrepreneurial culture” and the availability of its talent pool, specifically in the Boston area (Schoffski 2002 cited in Kobelt 2006: 3). Some Light in the Tunnel However, not everything is gloomy as far as the European Union’s pharmaceutical industry is concerned. When it comes to profitability, which is a strong indicator of competitiveness, European pharmaceutical firms rank among the most profitable in the world.

In 2005, GlaxoSmithKline ranked next to Johnson & Johnson’s $10. 4 billion dollars in terms of profitability (Kobelt 2006: 4). Novartis, Roche, and AstraZeneca, with net incomes of $6. 1 billion, $5. 4 billion, and $4. 7 billion respectively, followed American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. The year 2005 was a banner year for European firms in terms of turnover and income (Kobelt 2006: 4). After a period of underperformance, the European pharmaceutical industry picked up ground and increased by 30%. In contrast, American stocks looked less impressive and underperformed by 9 percent.

Employment opportunities in the industry went up by 17% from 1990 to 2004. From 2000 to 2004 alone, almost 50,000 jobs were created, most of which were newly established (Kobelt 2006: 4). IMS Health likewise revealed that the European pharmaceutical industry experienced rapid growth compared to their North American counterparts on the aspect of competitiveness and innovation. For some experts, European pharmaceutical firms can be comparable with American firms on the aspect of innovation and competitiveness (Kobelt 2006: 4). The Structure of the Pharmaceutical Industry

The European pharmaceutical industry works as a system or network. Innovation, production, and commercialization of drugs depends on a wide range of players such as various kinds of firms, research organizations and facilities, financial institutions, regulating agencies, to name just a few. Each player is connected together through a network of varying relationships, which may involve market transaction, “command and control” administrative rules, and various intermediate forms (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000: 2).

Thus, in order to assess the competitiveness of the industry, one would likewise have to consider a wide range of institutions, infrastructures, and policies that have an impact on the action of firms. The situation is aggravated by the fact that there is a proliferation of various kinds of firms. In fact, multinational companies comprise 40 to 60% of most national markets in the developed countries (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000: 2). While the pharmaceutical industry is organized globally, part of the environment in which it thrives in is country-specific.

Each nation has its own health care system with separate rules and regulations depending on the industrial policy of that country. Majority of the European countries adopt one of two basic health system model; first, the comprehensive social insurance system which is followed by Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France; and second, national health service model with public funding, which is adopted by the United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden (Hutton et al 1994: 100). The European pharmaceutical industry is known for being innovative and competitive.

The most notable names in the sector are involved in research and development. They are responsible for generating income, investments, and job opportunities (Kobelt 2006: 1). Aside from its economic worth, the pharmaceutical industry has a vital role in ensuring and further advancing public health and creating medicines that the community needs to cure diseases, decrease health obstacles and guarantee that the people are assured of sustainable healthcare for existing and coming generations (Kobelt 2006: 1). There are two kinds of firms that thrive on the pharmaceutical industry.

The first one consists of the smaller companies specializing in the selling of non-R & D intensive drugs. The job of these firms is to implement manufacturing and commercialization activities and does not put money in research & development. Usually, they are national companies that completely function in their own market (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000: 2). During the last two decades, a new set of companies have proliferated in the industry. They have conducted an intensive research which has resulted from fresh opportunities brought by the field of life science.

They are known as new biotechnology firms. Their specialty is on developing new biotechnology and their activities may involve discovering and developing new drug compounds to the introduction of new drug screening or research tools and technologies in sectors like genomics, bioinformatics, etc. (Gambardella, Orsenigo, and Pammolli 2000: 2). Regulating the Industry The European pharmaceutical market is a regulated industry. There are two factors that are affected by regulatory measures, namely, the supply and demand.

The former can be used separately from the pharmaceutical firm in order to have an impact on those who are in charge of marketing products. Registration is considered as a technical and scientific in most states, but it is the most powerful way to control the economy because it can segregate the product from the market. However, there is still a need to determine whether a product registration system can be cost-effective (Hutton et al 1994: 102). The most common way of regulation in the European pharmaceutical industry is price-based regulation.

In countries like France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, and Switzerland, the cost of reimbursement must be agreed upon prior to marketing the registered product. In majority of European Union member countries, the government has control of price increases throughout the marketing life of a product (Hutton et al 1994: 103). Long ago, pharmaceutical firms were permitted to pass any increase in the cost, but recently however, governments have implemented strict rules when it comes to freezing the price of existing products, as in the case of Switzerland and Italy in 1992 and 1993, respectively (Hutton et al 1994: 103).

With the exception of the United Kingdom and Spain, which utilize company profitability as the criteria for control, all other countries use price-based regulation. In the UK and Spain, pharmaceutical companies have the freedom to set their own prices in order to obtain the total rate of profit (Hutton et al 1994: 103). On the other hand, the aim of regulating the demand is to influence the behaviour of the entities responsible for demand generation for drugs such as pharmacists, doctors, and patients. Presently, reimbursement limitations and fixed budgets for drugs are now being utilized. One would usually find positive or negative listings.

In France, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Greece, and Spain, the positive listing is used while in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany, the negative list-drugs are being followed (Hutton et al 1994: 103). The Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Europe The European Union has clearly pointed out that in order to maintain a competitive atmosphere and be in touch with globalization where countries like China and India can pose a challenge, they need to focus on innovation by investing in cutting-edge technologies and make sure that it retains its position as an attractive venue for foreign direct investment (Kobelt 2006: 2).

The European Union, through its Lisbon Agenda has braced itself to become the “most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010” (Kobelt 2006: 2). Taking the lead is Brussels, which has initiated several policies, among them “better regulation” to reduce the current and future EU legislations on businesses (Kobelt 2006: 2). The pharmaceutical industry is one of the primary focuses in Europe’s attempts to make the region competitive (Kobelt 2006: 2). In June 2002, the G-10 was established and in its final report made 14 recommendations on how they can improve the competitiveness of the European pharmaceutical industry.

Some of these recommended policy changes have already been implemented and embedded in the EU strategy (Kobelt 2006: 2). In the aspect of pharmaceutical, the EU will likewise implement the “High Level Pharmaceutical Forum” involving representatives of member states and industry stakeholders (Kobelt 2006: 2). The delegates have promised to work on the following areas: 1) sharing of information; 2) determining the effectiveness of treatment; and 3) costing reimbursement in order to foster innovation and competitiveness (Kobelt 2006: 2).

One of the most glaring trends in the field of pharmaceuticals is high growth rate, and as numerous factors suggest, this trend will most likely continue. Advancements in science and technology, particularly in the area of health care, have led to an increase in life expectancy especially in the industrialized countries (Davidson and Greblov 2005: 5). According to the results of various studies, a huge portion of the elderly is deprived of proper health care. In the United States, for example, only 1/3 of the elderly population needing medical treatment for high cholesterol is actually being given sufficient treatment.

New health care programs and benefits will increase the accessibility of prescription drugs to senior citizens, which will consequently lead to increased pharmaceutical sales (Davidson and Greblov 2005: 5). Biotechnology provides another promising aspect for the future of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe. Biotech drugs constitute 10 to 15% of the present pharmaceutical industry, and the sector is surpassing the performance of the whole market in the aspect of growth. However, the industry must address critical issues first (Wood 2008).

The main problem with biotechnology is that it is a complicated process which can make it quite challenging for drug manufacturers to convince physicians to prescribe and use them. In European countries like France, chemical generics prescription is quite unpopular so it would be a difficult task for governments to advance this method (Wood 2008). Conclusion Since the 19th century, the pharmaceuticals industry has been the vanguard of the European industry, providing the biggest contribution to the European trade balance in the field of high technology and research & development.

However, when compared to the United States, the pharmaceutical industry would find itself in the losing end. During the last twenty years, the industry has been marked with vital changes in its structure as a result of technological and institutional shocks that had a great impact on its value chain. Consequently, this paved the way for changes in the firms’ composition as well as in the structure of the market in both regional and global perspective. A series of studies have found that Europe is way behind the United States in the pharmaceutical industry.

In a 2000 report focusing on the competitiveness of Europe’s pharmaceutical sector, when it comes to exports and consumption, it was revealed that the United States has already surpassed Europe. The European Union, through its Lisbon Agenda has braced itself to become the “most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010”. Taking the lead is Brussels, which has initiated several policies, among them “better regulation” to reduce the current and future EU legislations on businesses. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the primary focuses in Europe’s attempts to make the region competitive.

According to the results of various studies, a huge portion of the elderly is deprived of proper health care. In the United States, for example, only 1/3 of the elderly population needing medical treatment for high cholesterol is actually being given sufficient treatment. New health care programs and benefits will increase the accessibility of prescription drugs to senior citizens, which will consequently led to increased pharmaceutical sales. Biotechnology provides another promising aspect for the future of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe.

Biotech drugs constitute 10 to 15% of the present pharmaceutical industry and the sector is surpassing the performance of the whole market in the aspect of growth. However, the industry must address critical issues first. The main problem with biotechnology is that it is a complicated process which can make it quite challenging for drug manufacturers to convince physicians to prescribe and use them. In European countries like France, chemical generics prescription is quite unpopular so it would be a difficult task for governments to advance this method.


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