ATHENS — Efforts to develop a strong and competitive biopharmaceutical sector in Greece were discussed in an online meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the relevant government ministers and the heads of top pharmaceutical firms and experts on the front line of the global fight against the pandemic. The meeting, held on Sunday evening, focused on creating a road map of practical proposals.
As the prime minister noted, the challenge was how to make the transition from the current vibrant but not exactly cutting-edge domestic pharmaceutical industry to one based on research and innovation, that can play a key role in the increasingly important biopharmaceutical industry and greatly contribute to the country's economic growth.
The industry representatives, many of which have investments in Greece, noted a need to improve the current framework, calling for changes in licencing procedures, less bureaucracy, better technological infrastructure and tax reforms.
The meeting also examined strategic actions needed to develop research and production units in Greece, to attract investment and create links with the academic sector, establishing educational structures that provide high-level expertise in the management of biopharmaceutical firms, possibly even in collaboration with universities abroad. They also noted that the growth of research centres and a competitive business ecosystem in Greece will help to reverse the brain drain.
In his opening remarks at the start of the meeting, Mitsotakis said that the government "has laid the foundations for a growth model that is not necessarily based on the traditional comparative advantages that were always associated with Greece."
"What I am looking for is a specific road map with recommendations on the actions we can take in order to make the biopharmaceutical sector a crucial sector for the country's growth, based on innovation…and I think the government is very good at carrying out the necessary reforms, once it has first identified what they are," he added, noting that significant work had been done to make Greece more attractive to investors, despite the pandemic.
He also noted how struck he had been by the very large number of people with Greek links or roots worldwide that were involved in the global fight against the pandemic, when the government had started searching for experts that might assist in managing the crisis.
Participants in the meeting included Noubar Afeyan, the board chairman of Moderna and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas (Harvard Medical School and president of the National Council for Research, Technology and Innovation), Albert Bourla (chairman and CEO of Pfizer), Eric Cantor (head of Moelis & Company), Nicholas Galakatos (Global Head of Life Sciences at Blackstone Life Sciences), Emil D. Kakkis (chairman of Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical), Costis Maglaras (Dean of Columbia Business School), Peter R. Orszag (CEO of Financial Advisory at Lazard), Sir Menelas Pangalos (Executive Vice-president at AstraZeneca), Stelios Papadopoulos (Chairman of Biogen, Exelixis, Regulus Therapeutics and co-founder of Eucrates Biomedical), George A. Scangos (CEO of Vir Biotechnology), Vangelis Vergetis (CEO of Intelligencia and chairman of Eucrates Biomedical), Michel Vounatsos (CEO of Biogen) and George Yancopoulos (chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals).