The individual pharmaceutical companies that participate in IMI provide payments in kind instead of money. But whether and how they do this remains unclear to the public. So who actually monitors the industry?
IMI was launched in 2008, with a budget of €2 billion. The giant research initiative was extended in 2014, this time with a budget of €3.276 billion. The EU provides half of this budget, while the pharmaceutical industry provides the other half, in the form of payments in kind (through the use of its laboratories or research personnel, for example). The EU funds benefit universities and smaller research institutions. Funds provided by the European Commission are monitored and meticulously documented by the European Court of Auditors. The same applies to the entire package that the pharmaceutical companies, organized under the umbrella of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), contribute.
What the public is not informed about, however, is how much the individual pharmaceutical companies contribute to the individual IMI projects. Because EFPIA officially functions as an IMI project partner, it is only required to report its contribution, IMI stated when contacted by the journalists. In Brussels, officials in the EU executive point out that because the pharmaceutical companies receive no funds from the Commission, the public has no right to monitor these firms. They also note that the individual companies' contributions are confidential.
But even the control committee that represents the EU member states within the IMI was not given access to EFPIA contributions, reports a member of the committee. In a 2013 report on IMI, the European Parliament criticized the fact that the European Court of Auditors could not audit the payments in kind by industry partners, even though they appeared in IMI's financial statement.