As the dust settles after a surprising outcome to the 2015 General Election, the focus will now shift towards David Cameron’s new government- its ministers, priorities and policies – and for us, what this will mean for the pharmaceutical industry in the UK.
Over the last five years the previous Government recognised the pharmaceutical industry as the “jewel in the crown” of British industry and committed to a sustainable long-term plan to drive growth and global competitiveness. The Strategy for UK Life Sciences, launched by David Cameron in December 2011, outlined a vision for the UK to be a global leader in life sciences and included a series of actions designed to nurture the sector and make this vision a reality. The industry welcomed this support and the initiatives that have improved the opportunities for clinical research and collaboration between individuals and organisations across the NHS, academia, industry and voluntary groups. However, the clear commitment and leadership put forward by the last Government in the Strategy for UK Life Sciences has not been sustained in key policy areas, particularly the Innovation, Health and Wealth agenda in the NHS.
The ABPI 2015 Manifesto: our agenda for change outlines the key measures the industry would like to see from a new Government. We want the UK to lead the world in the development of new and innovative treatments that reflect greater understanding of the complexity of biological systems and disease and harness the power of health information and new technologies to address them. However, it is not enough to bring about these innovations alone; we need to make sure they are incorporated into the NHS and available to benefit all patients.
Patient access to the most advanced medicines is low and slow in the UK compared to other countries, meaning that NHS patients are missing out on treatments that are available in other parts of the world.
A more holistic research and health system is urgently needed to support both the development of research in parallel with faster patient access to innovative medicines. This holistic system would continue to develop e-health databases that, properly safeguarded, could be used to advance health outcomes and support medical research in the UK.
Innovative medicines play an important contribution to the health and wealth of our nation. Improving patient access to innovative medicines in the UK would unlock the value of the life sciences sector in the UK, driving growth in jobs and building on the industry’s investment and manufacturing track record. This would make the UK a powerhouse for innovation and the NHS a global leader for healthcare. And as importantly, it would transform the health and life chances of millions of UK patients.
Dr Virginia Acha
Executive Director – Research, Medical and Innovation (RM&I)