The European Union has been urged to spearhead the adoption of new R&D models which "strive for more openness and needs-driven innovation to ensure affordable access to biomedical knowledge and goods".

In a just-published policy paper, Health Action International Europe and the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue notes that the EU new policies for R&D - Horizon 2020 - provide "the perfect opportunity to lead the way towards new models of health innovation". The paper claims that the present model "results in high prices for medical products that threaten the economic sustainability of global healthcare systems, while neglecting the needs of the world’s poor".

HAI Europe and TACD argue that billions of euros’ worth of EU funding in health research "are awarded without any robust strings attached to ensure that the public receives a fair return". They claim that it needs to shift away from this current trend "and become a wiser investor by imposing conditions to the granting of funds", adding that the EU should "consider innovative proposals for the development of sustainable models of biomedical innovation, especially proposals that de-link the R&D costs from the price of final products".

The paper's recommendations generally coincide with proposals from a recent report from the World Health Organisation which emphasises the need for ‘open knowledge innovation' and "a structural change towards needs-driven innovation by means of an intergovernmental binding agreement".

David Hammerstein at TACD says that current proposals for the EU R&D framework in Horizon 2020 "socialise the risks of biomedical investment, while privatising the profits. This is not acceptable in a time where the economic sustainability of global healthcare systems is under threat".

HAI Europe's Tessel Mellema adds that this is the time for the EU "to take the lead and become a key player in the development of new sustainable models of biomedical innovation that promote both affordable access to R&D outcomes, and the creation of public knowledge goods".