Does Finland need its own drug development and manufacturing or will Europe take care of us even in the event of a crisis? Is the security of medicine supply guaranteed? These and other topics will be discussed in the InFLAMES panel discussion at the science day of the Turku Europe Forum on 24 August. The panel is organised at the Marina Palace at 11.30am-12.15pm. The discussion will be interpreted into English.
The members of the panel include Liisa Hurme, who was selected as the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Orion, Professor of Virology Ilkka Julkunen from the University of Turku, Member of the European Parliament Sirpa Pietikäinen, and Professor of Biochemistry Tiina Salminen from Åbo Akademi University. The moderator is Reijo Salonen, a visiting professor at the InFLAMES flagship.
Professor Salonen belives that the obligatory storing of medicine in Finland is a good basis for ensuring the security of medicine supply. Pharmaceuticals companies, importers, health care units and the National Institute for Health and Welfare are legally obligated to maintain a storage in case of crises.
– By living here in the northernmost part of Europe, we have understood that we need to store medicine in case we are isolated for some reason and cannot get the necessary materials. However, the problem remains that how can we prepare for a situation where the obligatory storages will only last for a certain amount of time?
Salonen notes that the acquisition of raw pharmaceutical materials is highly dependent on China and that most of the generic drugs come from India. If China decided to limit the export of these raw materials, the situation could become very difficult very quickly.
Corona was a wake-up call
The connection between Finnish drug manufacturing and the availability of medicine is obvious, but do we need our own drug development and research to support the security of supply? Reijo Salonen thinks that the answer is clear, although not straightforward.
Sirpa Pietikäinen participated in drafting a joint pharmaceutical strategy for Europe and she says that the EU has been in pains for over a decade to decide what to do with the pharmaceutical industry’s dependence on China and India. Pietikäinen also asks what would happen if the obligatory storages run out.
– We need to have some kind of a plan B and it should be based on joint crisis preparation by the European countries. No one can manage alone, we need mutual distribution of work. The coronavirus was a serious wake-up call to reality as the European countries went after their own interests in obtaining vaccinations, but we cannot act that way again.
Pietikäinen continues that Finnish drug development should and must be continued. – We have expertise in many things, it would be foolish to let our strengths wane. However, from a European point of view and from that of the distribution of work, we have to consider if it necessary to do everything ourselves. It is a good topic for discussion.
The Europe Forum in Turku is a three-day event opened by the science day on Wednesday, 24 August. The theme of this year’s Europe Forum is the position of Finland and the EU as part of the changing international order. The event is organised for the fifth time and it brings together people from different areas of life: decision-making politicians, non-governmental organisations, economic life, labour market organisations, specialists, and citizens.
In addition to Marina Palace, events will be held at the Turku City Theatre. Closer to the event, tickets become available also for the audience. All programme can be streamed on the Europe Forum website or watched later as recordings (https://europeforum.fi/en).
InFLAMES Flagship is a joint initiative of University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Finland. The goal of the Flagship is to integrate the immunological and immunology-related research activities to develop and exploit new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for personalised medicine. InFLAMES in funded by Academy of Finland.