A renewed level of trust between the pharmaceutical industry, government and patients must be established or the cost will be a failure to convert scientific innovation into saved lives. This was the call today from Nigel Brooksby, President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London.
His speech highlighted the trend of growing public distrust of corporate business in general and he said this was of particular concern in healthcare.
"Declining trust can lead to worse health outcomes. If patients distrust the health service they are less likely to consult a doctor. Problems are much more likely to present themselves in emergency situations requiring more expensive secondary care," he told the conference.
He said that a key driver of distrust was a result of how the NHS is financed and structured and the increasing pressures on its budget from an ageing population as well as the rising cost of technology and consumer expectations:
"This creates a situation where patients are not necessarily getting access to the best treatments - creating mistrust of suppliers. Patients don't know that medicine prices are regulated by government, and that the average price of medicines has actually fallen by more than 20 per cent in real terms over the past decade," said Mr Brooksby.
He asked for a more mature and mutual relationship between pharmaceutical industry, government and patients. For industry, this meant realism in recognising the pressure on NHS resources, listening to concerns and addressing them transparently, and reaffirming the mission of industry to get effective medicines to patients.
For Government and patients, it meant acknowledgement that only a profit-making research-based industry can deliver much-needed innovative new medicines, recognition of the huge financial risks and costs that companies take in funding R&D, and accordingly paying a fair price that enabled companies to continue finding new and effective medicines for patients.
"Trust is not blind faith - it must be earned. Business, and not least the pharmaceutical industry, must recognise that the public needs to trust us. Trust is a business asset with bottom line implications, not simply a nice idea," said Mr Brooksby.
"The UK industry recognises that we operate within a finite NHS budget. It is exactly for this reason that the nation must focus on both quality and cost-effective prescribing for maximum patient benefit. Quality prescribing does not mean short-termist price slashing.
It means prescribing the right medicine, for the right patient at the right time. Quality prescribing saves not only lives, but saves the NHS money. The postcode lottery and regional health inequalities have no place in a modern, well funded, NHS." he said.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410