New Report Links Healthy Ageing and Economic Growth in Super-Ageing Japan

Incentives for health innovation are essential to the sustainability of ageing societies, says the new report from the Global Coalition on Aging and the Health and Global Policy Institute

New York, NY and Tokyo, JAPAN (October 26, 2021) – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) today launched a new report identifying incentives for health innovation as a fundamental requirement for economic growth and fiscal sustainability in Japan and other rapidly ageing societies across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and worldwide. The new report, Incentivizing Innovation for Healthy Ageing and Economic Growth in Super-Ageing Japan, brings together key insights from a private roundtable hosted in May by the two organizations.

At the May roundtable, sponsored by Pfizer, Japanese and global experts and decision makers concluded that spending on health innovation must be treated as an investment for the fiscal health of the nation. This and other insights from the roundtable report will be at the center of an October 27th roundtable, “Investing in Health Innovation for OECD Ageing Societies: Models for Healthier, Active, and Fiscally Sustainable 21st Century Ageing,” hosted by GCOA and reported to the OECD Forum.

“Incentives for health innovation – strong and sustained intellectual property protections coupled with appropriate access and reimbursement levels of the biomedical innovations themselves – must surely be seen at the center of the economic growth goals for super-ageing societies and all OECD ageing societies,” said Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging and the moderator of the roundtable. “Measured by health outcomes, healthier ageing will create the basis for more stable work, productivity, and economic growth environments in ageing societies where transformation to 21st century models are unfolding,” Hodin said.

The roundtable and report connect to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, the UN and World Health Organization Decade of Healthy Ageing, and the OECD promotion of lifelong social participation as a 21stcentury path to achieve healthier and fiscally sound societies. This included discussion of an INES reimbursement proposal (English, Japanese) to support and encourage innovation. Such sentiments were powerfully echoed during the roundtable and reflected in the report.

“Just like we are seeing with climate change, we need the creation of policies in the health sector, too, that could create a virtuous cycle of innovation promotion,” explained Motoshige Itoh, Professor Emeritus University of Tokyo and Professor of International Social Sciences, Gakushuin University, at the roundtable. “This includes incentives to encourage private investment into innovation…strengthened incentives to encourage private investment and reform public frameworks so that resources can be allocated to support innovation.”

The roundtable report offers four key takeaways to support the innovation in health that super-ageing societies and all OECD ageing societies require:

  1. Japan’s health, economic, and social goals align well with global frameworks for healthy ageing found in the UN/WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing and the OECD Strategy for Ageing Societies, especially as Japan moves toward new approaches for work, retirement, and economic growth.
  2. Innovation is integral to the achievement of active ageing goals, and it is important that policies be put into place that actively encourage such innovation. Scientific progress and health innovation are needed in order for every member of Japanese society to enjoy increased healthy longevity.
  3. Innovations in healthy ageing will impact labor markets and therefore the economic and fiscal goals. More people working longer is essential in a society where there are fewer younger people, but this is only possible with healthier ageing that requires investment in the biomedical innovations to enable such healthier ageing.  Short-term spending will yield longer-term savings.
  4. Innovations for Covid-19 vaccines and therapies emerged as a clear example of the need for a hospitable environment for health innovation that is defined by very clear policies in such areas as strong intellectual property rights and market-based access and reimbursement returns.

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