The “magic” of public-private partnerships

Key note by Francesco Patalano (Novartis) and Daniel Prieto-Alhambra (University of Oxford).

Albeit our different perspectives, we, public and private partners in EU-PEARL share a common responsibility towards society: to improve health outcomes for patients by promoting innovative and more efficient methodologies that enable the timely development of new medicines. Now, the COVID-19 global emergency confirms once again that the only way we can move forward is together.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) like EU-PEARL (and any other IMI project) represent a major advance towards a more efficient approach to biomedical research and drug development. By fostering this new collaborative model, we as members of academia, industry, clinical research institutions, regulatory bodies or patient communities have joined forces to help bring innovative, more effective and personalized medicines to patients, faster.

At first glance, knowledge sharing, scientific debate, access to funding or optimization of resources are some of the advantages our PPP brings about. But more importantly, it offers us all a vantage point from which we can build synergies and mutual understanding of our respective needs, motivations, financial and operational constrains, assets and potential contributions to drug research and development processes for the benefit of patients.

“Public or private, the glue that holds us all together is our shared responsibility towards society which entails the development of new medicines to improve health outcomes”.

Not only are we intertwined in this complex path of taking a new compound from the lab bench to the bedside. Our approaches on why and how to do it may also differ. And this is where our main strength rests on. By cleverly combining our different outlooks, operating models and resources, we can tackle highly ambitious projects to design complete frameworks and guiding principles for innovative research methodologies such as EU-PEARL’s patient-centric, multi-company trials platform.

“Only by cleverly combining our different outlooks, operating models and resources, can we tackle highly ambitious projects such as EU-PEARL”

In this sense, public partners offer expertise in therapeutic areas and in specific aspects of clinical and statistical methodologies, together with direct contact with patients and an independent, non-profit oriented view. Meanwhile, private partners bring in funding, streamlined organizational infrastructure and expertise in drug development methodologies. Both perspectives and contributions are essential for cutting-edge research projects to succeed.

“As physicians and scientists working equally in the public and private sectors, we have a common duty to patients”

Of course, multi-partner collaboration can be challenging and often frustrating if not approached with an open, non-proprietary outlook. But a full power collaboration can deliver exceptional results. In EU-PEARL, we are working hard to make a quantum leap in the clinical research methodology. We hope that in five years from now, cross company platform studies will be routinely used to assess early efficacy and safety of new therapeutic options, primarily in areas of high medical need.

Finally, it is worth reminding us that regardless of our professional affiliation, we are firstly, and foremost physicians and scientists committed to develop better tools to treat patients. We have a duty to them. Thus, public or private, we are all in the same boat.


Francesco Patalano, Head of Paediatric and Patient Reported Outcomes Center of Excellence at Novartis. Member of EU-PEARL Executive Committee.

Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, Professor of Pharmaco – and Device Epidemiology at University of Oxford. Member of EU-PEARL Consortium.

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