Innovative Medicines Initiative: an opportunity for local researchers

The search for effective medicines: local researchers urged to come forward with proposals for research

Maltese researchers are being urged to take part in a Europe-wide innovate medicine initiative, aimed at putting forward proposals for research that develops effective medicines for European citizens.

“The Maltese scientific community has a lot to offer and it would be a win-win situation for it to be a part of the initiative,” Minister Helena Dalli said.

She was addressing a seminar organised by the Medicines Authority on how Maltese scientists can participate in the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the pharmaceutical industry and European communities aimed at making Europe more attractive for private Research and Development investment.

IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion which currently covers over 50 projects dealing with various health issues.

The process of developing new medicines is very long and costly, with an average of €2.3 billion spent over a development period of anything between 10 to 15 years. In many cases, drugs developed do not make it through the various rounds of trials, with only one in 10 medicines making it to the market.

“There are many diseases for which we still have no adequate treatment there is still no cure and the IMI was set up to address these challenges and is working towards speeding up the development and patient access to innovative medicines,” she said.

The minister praised the IMI for pioneering a more collaborative approach to research including entities ranging from SMEs to academic institutions, private companies and Medicines Authorities.

“The Medicines Authority is investing in capacity and competence building in several areas including genomics, stem cell therapy, innovative medicines and rare disease among others,” Dalli said.

Maltese participation in such projects, she added, would not only provide the Maltese local community with access to increased resources, but would also allow local researchers to gain invaluable experience through their collaborations.

Marta Gomez Quintanilla, the chair of the state representatives group of the IMI, said that so far only two applications had been received from Malta, with no projects having yet been approved.

“We are all involved in this initiative as tax payers and as citizens,” she said, as she underscored the fact that half the funding for the project comes directly from the European Commission.