BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - European pharmaceutical industry exasperation at repeated and unprofitable talks with government spilled over during the latest meeting of the European Union's High Level Pharmaceutical Forum.

Speaking after the meeting, Arthur J. Higgins, CEO of Bayer HealthCare AG, said, "The Forum has not met our expectations to date, as it hasn't addressed its core objective, but has instead become another discussion platform on the cost of medicines, rather than their value and contribution to the health and wealth of Europe."

Higgins' comments carry all the more weight because he is also the newly-elected president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. "My plea is that we focus on concrete deliverables for the benefit of patients, healthcare systems, and Europe's competitiveness," he said.

Higgins added that guidance at the European level is urgently required for the pricing and reimbursement of medicines to ensure a better balance between governments' desire to contain health care expenditures and providing the industry with a fair reward for research and innovation. Higgins urged a broad definition of value in pricing and reimbursement decisions, "encompassing therapeutic value, quality of life and socio-economic gains."

Greater transparency, quality and consistency also are required in health technology assessment systems across Europe, he said. "The lack of real-life data at the time of approval should not restrict or delay patient access and reimbursement of a product," Higgins said.