The Societal Challenges pillar of Horizon 2020 plays an important role in reinforcing Europeans citizens’ confidence in the European Union. Through investing in innovation that directly improves people’s lives, such as health, the EU uses its combined resources to provide real, added-value benefits to its citizens.
Health is considered our most basic and essential asset. Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states that a high level of human health protection should be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
However, major inequalities still exist in healthcare capabilities and children´s well-being within EU member states. Astronomical prices of new drugs for cancer and hepatitis C in Europe have attracted considerable media and public attention, which has brought the debate on access to medicines in the political spotlight of the EU and its Member States.
Though the challenge of access to medicines has long been a concern for low- and middle-income countries, high prices now also threaten equitable access to treatment in the world’s wealthiest countries, including Europe. Public health experts highlight the need to improve access to high quality, timely and accurate diagnosis, care, treatment and long term follow up strategies across Europe.
In this contribution we highlight the key principles that should drive the next funding framework programme to enhance the quality and efficiency of Horizon 2020 biomedical R&D spending. Firm and binding requirements need to be put in place by the European Commission from basic research onwards to ensure that publicly funded biomedical R&D targets prioritise public health needs and results in health technologies that are suitable, affordable and available for target populations, including those in resource-poor settings.