Sweden, home of IKEA, Pippi Longstocking and Abba, is one of Europe’s most innovative and forward-thinking nations in the healthcare and life sciences sphere. Here are five top facts to know about Sweden.
Sweden holds one of the most comprehensive sets of patient registries in the world
These are called national quality registries and they contain individualised data concerning patient problems, medical interventions and outcomes after treatment. There are 147 of them in total.
The quality and amount of data contained in the registers is unmatched in most other countries
Andrea Sambatti, Boehringer Ingelheim
According to Andrea Sambatti of Boehringer Ingelheim Sweden, “the National Diabetes Register has information on more than 90 percent of all diabetics in the country, which provides an amazing opportunity to improve the quality of care for patients. Additionally, this information helps us to design better protocols for clinical trials and provide good data for research. The quality and amount of data contained in the registers is unmatched in most other countries.”
Sweden has the highest five-year survival rate for cancer in Europe
According to a study by the European Cancer Congress in Vienna, cancer survival in Sweden ranks far above that of similarly-sized developed nations. While survival rates in northern Europe average 59.6 percent, the Swedish survival rate stands at 64.7 percent.
Today, Sweden is the country with the highest 5-year relative survival rates for all cancers in the EU by a strong margin
Malin Parkler, Pfizer
Malin Parkler of Pfizer Sweden told PharmaBoardroom that, “national investments in cancer care have improved patient outcomes and reduced waiting times. Today, Sweden is the country with the highest 5-year relative survival rates for all cancers in the EU by a strong margin. What we would like to see is an improvement in early diagnosis along with a centralized implementation of advanced biomarker diagnosis technology, which we see as crucial for precision medicine.”
Sweden has the largest pharma market in the region and is growing
The total Swedish pharma market stood at around EUR 4 billion in 2017, according to the latest EFPIA statistics (see graph below). This makes Sweden the most sizeable market in the region, dwarfing those of neighbouring Denmark, Finland and Norway.
Furthermore, Sweden has shown steady growth over the past five years, expanding at a growth rate of around 1.8 percent per annum (see graph below)
Several life-changing healthcare inventions and pharmaceutical products were invented in Sweden
Innovations such as Bricanyl and Pulmicort against asthma, Losec against heartburn, Olysio against hepatitis C, the pacemaker for rhythm disorders in the heart, the respirator that provides acute respiratory help, Xalatan against glaucoma and the local anesthetic ointment Xylocain were all developed by researchers and entrepreneurs in Sweden. Despite a five-year downturn in clinical trials, Jenni Nordberg, director & national coordinator at the Life Sciences Office speculates, “I am highly optimistic about the future of life sciences in Sweden. I believe in our ability to be a frontrunner in the coming healthcare revolution by implementing the newest technologies in a sustainable, collaborative and creative manner.”
Three of the top 50 multinational pharma companies have their origins in Sweden
It is well known that Sweden accounts for the ‘Astra’ of AstraZeneca. One of the company’s largest R&D plants is still located in Sweden and its shares are partially listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. Anders Ekblom, former CEO at AstraZeneca AB Sweden, told us that “Today, AstraZeneca continues to play a major role in driving the local ecosystem. The company has over 3,000 staff in production in Södertälje and over 2,500 staff in R&D in Gothenburg, making them two of the premier hubs globally for AstraZeneca.”
Today, AstraZeneca continues to play a major role in driving the local ecosystem
Anders Ekblom, AstraZeneca
However, few people know that Switzerland-headquartered Ferring was initially set up by a Swede in Malmo, where he could easily access animal corpses and the samples needed for the development of his groundbreaking fertility products.
Last but not least, Pfizer would perhaps never have become the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company without the USD 60 billion acquisition of Pharmacia in 2003. Pharmacia had been created by the 1995 merger of US-Upjohn and Swedish champion Pharmacia AB. Malin Parkler of Pfizer Sweden states that today, “Pfizer has a substantial research footprint in Sweden… Pfizer still values Sweden as a high-quality country for clinical trials and many of our ongoing clinical development projects are conducted here with Swedish healthcare engaged.”
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