The Greek government is looking for a road map to create an innovative, cutting –edge and extrovert pharmaceutical industry.

The country already has “a domestic vibrant but not exactly cutting-edge pharmaceutical industry” as the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, noted in an online meeting with the heads of top pharmaceutical firms and experts.

Now Greece needs to develop a strong and competitive biopharmaceutical sector based on research and innovation.

Suggestions made by the industry representatives, many of which have already invested in Greece, focused on four points:

  • Improving the licensing procedures
  • Reducing bureaucracy
  • Upgrading current technological infrastructure and
  • Introducing tax reforms to help the industry grow.

The meeting also examined ways to attract investment and create links with the academic sector.

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).

“The real challenge is how we move from where we are today to an industry that can play leading role in the emerging biopharmaceutical sector” K. Mitsotakis said

In his opening remarks K. Mitsotakis said: “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”.

A strong financial footprin

According to the study The contribution of the pharma industry in the Greek economy”, by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE), Greek pharmaceutical industries spend 5% of the overall private expenditure on R&D in Greece (2017), while 2,811 clinical trials were conducted until 2019, regardless of phase and type (1,604 completed).

The production of pharmaceutical products reached the value of €1 billion in 2018, with the added value at €559 million (3.0% share in the manufacturing sector).

According to the latest estimates of IOBE, the overall contribution of the pharma industry in GDP terms is estimated at 3.7% of the GDP in 2018. For each €1 added value of the companies involved in the pharmaceutical sector another €3.1 are generated for the whole Greek economy.

The jobs in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry reached the number of 17,100 persons in 2018, 60.6% of them being University graduates. Each job in the pharmaceutical sector sustains another 3 equivalent full-time jobs in the economy.

Equally important is the role of the pharmaceutical sector in the overall external trade, since the pharmaceutical products exports rose to €1.9 billion in 2019, representing 4.4% of the overall Greek commodities exports in 2019.

The impact on tax revenues from the pharma industry is estimated at circa €1.9 billion.