Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) research remains relevant; however, the wider benefits of the project are difficult to pin down, according to a review.
IMI was set up to revive drug developments in Europe’s pharma companies in antibiotics and treatments for cancer, respiratory, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.
An evaluation assessed the progress of IMI2 during the first half of the current Horizon 2020 research programme.
The evaluation team reaches some stark conclusions on the contribution of IMI to drugs research in Europe to date.
The report says: ‘There are limited examples that IMI helped to shorten the time of development of new applications or that IMI brought new, safer and more effective therapies or products to patients.’
However, it notes there are promising results emerging from the development of a new Ebola vaccination.
The main success for the programme is that pharma companies in Europe are doing precompetitive research together, setting the research agenda.
The EU has put €1.6bn of Horizon 2020 money into IMI, bolstered by €1.4bn of in-kind contributions from pharma companies. Collaboration partners include universities, smaller firms, patient organisations and drug regulators.
The review team says there is not sufficient data to demonstrate that IMI will keep the European pharmaceutical industry at the fore of innovation. There is, however, an acknowledgement that since it began in 2008, the IMI may have increased the resilience of the industry during the global financial crisis.
Patient organisations say they appreciate the opportunity to participate in the design of IMI projects, something that is not possible in other Horizon 2020 projects.