12 September 2023

Conversation with Sophie Millar, Strategy and Healthcare Systems Manager at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)

By: Maria Brandão, Account Executive, Evoke Incisive Health

Over the summer, the Evoke Incisive Health Brussels’ office had the opportunity to meet with Sophie Millar, Strategy and Healthcare Systems Manager at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). She kindly presented EFPIA’s objectives and initiatives in relation to cardiovascular health and diabetes.

Spearheading change for Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes in Europe

Imagine a future where cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are no longer significant health challenges that affect millions of people in Europe but rather manageable conditions that we have learned to prevent and tackle. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) is working towards this future, taking a proactive approach to tackle these pressing issues through its Cardiovascular Health (CVH) Platform and Diabetes Platform. These Platforms bring together several EFPIA member companies with the goal of improving patient outcomes, driving positive policy change, and promoting better healthcare solutions for those living with CVD and diabetes. We sat down with Sophie Millar, Manager in the Strategy and Healthcare Systems team at EFPIA, to find out more about the collaborative work being led by these Platforms. 

Driving change – Catching a ride towards policy change with the Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes Platforms

Despite being the leading cause of death in Europe, driving policy change in CVD is not easy. Policymakers still need to be convinced of the importance of secondary prevention and often look at prevention altogether as a cost in a context of limited or shrinking healthcare budgets. When it comes to diabetes, the landscape is very similar. Often misconstrued as a lifestyle-driven disease, diabetes impacts millions across Europe and has no cure. Yet again, convincing policymakers to invest in early detection and better management of this condition, even when considering the serious diabetes-related complications that can arise from poor and/or late management, remains a difficult task.

People need to embrace the realisation that smart healthcare spending and investment builds the foundations for stronger and more sustainable economic growth, which in turn supports better healthcare provision”.

To advance positive policy change on cardiovascular health and diabetes, that can significantly improve the life of patients, EFPIA established in 2018 the Diabetes Platform and in 2021 the Cardiovascular Health Platform.

The current policy priorities of the Diabetes Platform focus on early detection and better management of the condition, while similarly for the Cardiovascular Platform, the focus lies on secondary prevention and reduction of premature mortality. The work of both platforms centres around three primary focus areas: 

  1. First and foremost, the common goal is to engage in policy discussions at both EU and national level. This includes actively engaging with the key policy files, advocating for better approaches to prevention, early detection, screening, management, access to innovation and for strategies to be developed and implemented at EU and national level. To achieve this, the platforms regularly engage with other stakeholders in the broader disease communities, sometimes in the form of structured forums or partnershipsAn example of a partnership of which EFPIA is a member is the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health (EACH). EACH is a consortium of 17 European and international health organisations, working as a robust network to raise awareness, advise policymakers, mobilise investment for CVD research, and ultimately advocate for an ambitious EU strategy to address CVD. Other important interlocutors are Members of the European Parliament with interest in health and chronic disease policy.

  2. The work of both Platforms also places substantial focus on evidence-building, developing material to support evidence-based approaches to policy proposals and innovative solutions. These efforts result in the production of updated and strong data that can be used to raise awareness on the long-term socio-economic advantages and the overall importance of investing in improved and more efficient policies for people with CVD and diabetes, centred in prevention and better management.

  3. Lastly, both the Platforms aim to strengthen health promotion strategies through the implementation of targeted joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks at primary care level. One of the ultimate goals would be to see the adoption of Council Conclusions that call on Member States to implement joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks. As part of this line of work, earlier in the year, EFPIA together with other relevant stakeholders, organised an event in the European Parliament that drew attention to the need for policies aimed at reducing preventable and premature mortality due to CVD and diabetes.

Charting the way forward

The winds of change are blowing. The momentum created by the Healthier together – EU non-communicable diseases (NCD) initiative, the adoption of the diabetes resolution from the European Parliament and the recently released draft own initiative report on NCDs from the European Parliament’s Public Health Subcommittee (SANT), showcase political willingness from EU stakeholders to take action. The current Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU, one of the few EU countries with an implemented comprehensive strategy focused on cardiovascular health at a national level, also presents an opportunity to elevate this discussion further. With the European elections on the horizon, the time is now to push for prevention, early detection and improved management of CVD and diabetes to become non-negotiable parts of EU and national policy. 

EFPIA’s vision is that people living with NCDs, such as diabetes and CVD, achieve the best possible health outcomes and quality of life. Timely and effective prevention and health care interventions, accessible to all, can reduce complications and premature deaths, as well as unnecessary costs for health systems and society.”

Join us in making health more human™

If you like how we think, what we offer, and our mission to make health more human™, check out our open roles.

Inizio logo

We are proudly part of Inizio

Inizio is a strategic partner for companies in health and life sciences that connects a full suite of advisory, medical, marketing, communications, and patient and stakeholder engagement services across the lifecycle of a drug.

Learn more