Research priorities

Using the public health approach, EPHA urged DG Research to focus on chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory (i.e. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) diseases. EPHA advocates for a balanced and inclusive approach, as funding for poverty-related diseases (AIDS, TB and Malaria) from the EU is important. Research that addresses alcohol use disorders and depression as suggested by the WHO will increase excellence in science and improve health outcomes. This should not exclude rare diseases where data sets are more difficult to acquire, since there are often too few eligible patients to conduct effective studies.

Governance of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)

There is an imbalance between public and privately funded health research in the EU. With the strict guidelines concerning the nature of partnerships that may exclude many civil society organisations (CSOs), the EU should look beyond the PPP paradigm to other, more inclusive and public-interest centred alternatives. These must be constructed so as to facilitate identification of conflict of interest and institutionalise the central importance of public interest. Such structures should also privilege the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the involvement of CSOs. The greatest challenge raised by the establishment of a PPP in life sciences research and innovation is that of governance. Institutional structures must be put in place to ensure that any given PPP is efficient, appropriate, does not compromise policy objectives and research frameworks. This requires a clear specification of all partners’ roles and responsibilities, adequate performance monitoring, oversight of corporate partner selection, effective management of conflicts of interest and transparency in decision-making processes, structures and desired outcomes.

EPHA used the consultation to reiterate that innovation and research has to benefit the public interest. This could be helped by measures using Open Source approaches – allowing researchers to collaborate and share knowledge – and socially responsible licensing (SRL) – providing non-exclusive licences. EPHA highlights the importance of accessibility – whilst a number of funds and mechanisms are aimed at offering opportunities for health research funding, it can be difficult for novices and smaller organisations to obtain this support. The long and complex application process can be difficult for small organisations with limited financial or human resources for putting together a project proposal. Scientific breakthroughs are increasingly being discovered by small and medium enterprises and academics, and Horizons 2020 should promote the accessibility of all partners to improving excellence in science.


- EPHA Consultation response “Public Private Partnerships in life sciences research and innovation under Horizon 2020”.


Related EPHA articles

- Saving Lives and Creating Impact: EU Investment in Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases
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- eHealth week– pursuing better accessibility and expanded literacy
- Horizon 2020: will broader innovation improve health and wellbeing?
- IP isn’t working - NGOs and MEPs call for new methods of medical innovation
- European Commission new Innovation Partnership on Water still treats water as a commodity
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- Civil society call for greater public return on EU health R&D spending and a turn to needs-driven innovation
- Conclusions on Innovation Union for Europe
- Pressure mounts for a new form of medical innovation to improve access to medicines

Last modified on November 25 2014.