Pharmaceutical industry: Italy is the second largest pharmaceutical producer in the European Union with real possibilities to become the first. Innovation, convergence with Information & Communication Technology and a new Governance are the next challenges.
If the numbers are positive for the food industry, as we saw in our October blog, there is another sector in Italy that is not doing too badly at all. We are talking about the pharmaceutical industry, which now employs 64,000 people and 6,200 researchers.
According to data from Farmindustria, the Association of Pharmaceutical Enterprises, Italy steadily ranks first in Istat’s ranking of the competitiveness of industrial sectors. Pharma, from 2010 to 2016, is first in industrial output growth, export growth, and productivity growth.
At the European level, Italy also takes a prominent position. In fact, it is the second-largest pharmaceutical producer in the European Union, thanks to a production value of 30 billion (71 percent of which goes to exports), surpassed only by Germany. And the chances for getting to first place in the medium term are real. Finally, a note for exports: between 2010 and 2016 it grew more than all European countries.
Against this backdrop, the recent assignment of the European Medicines Agency headquarters to Amsterdam was a cold shower for the country. The choice that came purely by chance, after even on the third ballot it was not possible to determine a winner from the shortlisted cities, generated some puzzlement; yet for once it was highlighted as the Milan’s candidacy was supported in a way that was shared by all the actors involved.
Here, then, is where Italy has all the makings of growth, with a view to new scenarios of a rapidly changing world. Two, in particular, will be the crucial aspects: innovation and the convergence of the pharma world with Information & Communication Technology.
The drug will increasingly become a process, integrate with digital services and devices, and applications of personalized medicine will grow. As an example, smart pills will be able to release the active ingredient when it is needed: for example, a drug can be taken once a month, and each day the necessary dose is released. Or, it will be possible to measure glucose levels through contact lenses equipped with biosensors connected to an app.
As a high-tech, high-value-added industry, the potential is many, and at the same time, great challenges will be faced in the future. Massimo Scarabozzi, President of Farmindustria tries to tell the story by proposing solutions:
“The drug companies have lived through four years with optimism and passion, but also with responsibility and rigor, fulfilling the promises they made,” Scarabozzi argued. Today the pharmaceutical industry is, by all accounts, a strategic asset of the country. It is now necessary to build a Governance that has as its foundation adequate funding for health demand, with ad hoc resources for innovative drugs. Exceeding spending ceilings, starting with that for direct purchases. Uniformity of health policies throughout the territory with improved access to care, without regional differences.”
Italy boasts excellence in several pharmaceutical fields: in biotechnology; in vaccines; in advanced therapies; and also in Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization.
A recent study by Pometeia on this last area, i.e., contract manufacturers, certified that Italy ranks first in Europe ahead of Germany in terms of production value (1.7 billion, of which 70 percent, or 1.2 billion, goes to exports).
This value of production mostly includes the area of production inputs (such as active ingredients, excipients, packaging) followed by services (validation, engineering, technical consulting, for example) and finally capital goods such as owned machinery and rentals.
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