Clinical research: A great opportunity for patients, as well as for the economy


Clinical research: A great opportunity for patients, as well as for the economy


Athens, 16.05.2018.- On the occasion of the International Clinical Trials Day (20 May), SFEE once again highlights the important role of clinical research for patient access to innovative medicines and for the national economy, and stresses that clinical trials should be a priority of healthcare policy.

Clinical research is an important investment that offers high added value to patients and the economy. The benefits are multiple, especially for patients participating in clinical trials, who are given early access to new treatments, free medicines and laboratory and diagnostic tests, and to continuous high-quality medical care. At the same time, it attracts international capital, enables the transfer of research knowhow, boosts entrepreneurship and employment, creates well-paid jobs and employs highly qualified scientific staff at no cost to the Greek state.

Clinical trials are conducted internationally and in our country under a rigorous scientific, regulatory and legal framework and in accordance with international guidelines (ICH-GCP) that ensure the safety and well-being of trial subjects, while procedures are monitored through ongoing audits/inspections by national and international authorities and organisations (EOF, EMA, FDA).

According to official data from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), more than EUR 75 billion are invested every year in pharmaceutical research worldwide and more than EUR 30 billion in Europe. Greece’s share in this amount is much smaller than those of other countries of a similar size: for instance, Belgium attracts some EUR 2.5 billion in clinical trials, thereby covering almost 50% of citizens’ needs for medicines, while in our country less than EUR 80 million is invested, of which 20% (EUR 16 million) goes to the State, 15% (EUR 12 million) to participating hospitals, 5% (EUR 4 million) to research fund management accounts (ELKEA/ELKE), covering only 4% of pharmaceutical needs.

Clinical trials are a great opportunity, which remains untapped. Greece fulfills all the conditions for attracting investment in clinical research and for increasing this investment threefold within three years, to up to EUR 250 million annually. Although some steps have been taken to attract investment, there is still large scope for expansion, which needs to be exploited in a coordinated and structured manner by all the parties involved.

The strategic goal of SFEE and its member companies is to promote our country as an international hub for clinical trials, which would give fresh impetus both to public health and to the national economy. To achieve this goal, our country has to become competitive, which in turn requires rationalising and optimizing the institutional framework, cutting red tape and speeding up the relevant processes.

The pharmaceutical industry, despite the strains, remains a sector that can offer growth and jobs. All stakeholders must do more to bring more clinical trials to Greece. With more than 7,000 new medicines in development worldwide, it is their duty to ensure that the citizens of our country have access to such medicines.