Hippokratia. 2012; 16 (1): 6-10
The European Union (EU) and the world are faced with unprecedented economic challenges, which if allowed to persist could threaten its continued existence in its current form as a union. Furthermore, these same financial challenges can easily translate into societal hardship. The biomedical and pharmaceutical industries of the U.S. and Europe have been in the midst of severe financial constraints over the last few years, which will worsen in the coming years. A critical factor is a financial crisis that appears to be spreading like wildfire through Europe, with 3 of its oldest members (Greece, Ireland, Portugal) already having enlisted the aid of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avoid bankruptcy, and with the possibility of others to follow (Italy, Spain). Adding to this the increasing cost of introducing new medications and devices, and conducting clinical research, as well as the tightening regulatory pressures and the drying pharmaceutical pipelines, cost cutting pressures are mounting on pharmaceutical industries and the biomedical sector, whether in academia or in industry. This paper will attempt to highlight some of the problems that clinical research in Europe may be facing, as well as discuss some of the potential solutions. Although this will by no means be an exhaustive analysis, the goal is to show that times of financial hardship, such as the current one, may also provide the impetus for constructive change.