Brussels, 17 Dec 2003
EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has invited the opinions of the research community on the contributions that a forum on academic medical research could make to European research in this field.
Speaking to the French national institute for health and medical research (INSERM) on 15 December, Mr Busquin acknowledged that while the directive on good clinical practice, adopted in 2001 and to have been implemented in 2003, is necessary, it is, to an extent, problematic for public sector researchers wishing to carry out clinical trials. The additional bureaucracy introduced by the directive results in an extra burden for those who do not have the necessary resources and training.
'In this context it would seem interesting to me for a number of institutions and research agencies to come together in a European forum or platform in order to examine how to better finance and lead transnational and multi-centric trials of the more academic type,' said the Commissioner.
Mr Busquin added that, in his opinion, the aim of such an organisation would be to explore whether a framework could be created which would facilitate academic clinical research on a European scale, while respecting the objectives of the directive. A number of questions still need to be answered however, including: 'who should take the initiative to create a forum?', 'who should be the principal partners?' and 'what should be the relationship with the directive?'
While ensuring an appropriate research climate is essential for the continuation of publicly funded clinical trials, it is no less so encouraging private companies to carry out research in Europe. According to Mr Busquin, 73 per cent of investment by European pharmaceutical companies was channelled into Europe in 1990, while this figure had fallen to below 60 per cent in 2000.
The answer to the drop in medical research in Europe is to carry out more research on a pan-European scale in order to create a genuine critical mass of resources, and to disseminate knowledge gained throughout the whole of Europe, concluded Mr Busquin.