A report published today by IMS Health – which shows the slow progress being made on the uptake of new medicines – has led to the chief of the UK pharmaceutical industry to call for a more joined up approach to the Government’s Life Sciences strategy.
The review entitled 'Bridging the Gap - Why some patients don’t receive NICE recommended treatments in England' lists the numerous barriers to medicines reaching patients and calls for urgent action to remove these obstacles. The findings come one year after the Government published its Life Sciences strategy, which aimed to boost health and economic indicators by turning round the UK’s poor record on medicines uptake.
Yet with this latest report showing progress remains slow, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, has said all partners involved in the Life Sciences strategy need to work more closely together and redouble their efforts, whilst thinking hard about how key components of the Strategy can be achieved whilst uptake remains poor. He added that the NHS needs to understand that using the newest medicines can transform patient health, reduce costs by keeping people out of hospital and supports the pharmaceutical industry to create new treatments and economic prosperity in the UK.
The report identified some of the following barriers to uptake of medicines in the NHS:
lack of or poor diagnosis
inadequate funding for appropriate tests
lack of access to specialists
differing interpretations of NICE guidance by local and regional formulary committees as well as variable policies.
While problems persist with uptake to medicines in the UK, other components of the UK Life Sciences strategy are more difficult to achieve. For instance, if new medicines are not being used in the UK, companies will be less likely to research and develop new products here because they will be unable to compare against the most effective ‘gold standard’ treatments.
Commenting, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI said:
"This is the latest in a long line of reports that confirms the UK is performing poorly at getting the latest and best medicines to patients. We lag behind Europe on health outcomes in areas such as cancer and this is no surprise given how poor we are getting medicines for this disease to UK patients.
"Medicines are absolutely essential to the NHS and without their use, modern healthcare as we know it, simply would not exist. Their use has made many diseases which were once fatal, in to manageable conditions and transformed the lives of millions of people. It is frustrating then that the newest and most innovative medicines are not always being used for UK patients when they could make such a difference to their lives.
"Silo-budgeting is denying patients the treatments they need which often means they end up being cared for in expensive hospitals rather than community care. This short sightedness is not only costing the NHS money but also making the UK a less attractive place for pharmaceutical companies to conduct R & D, which in turn harms the UK economy. The Government does understand the need to address on-going uptake issues and in response it set up the Innovation, Health and Wealth to break down barriers to innovation. We fully support IHW and if it can deliver on its key objectives, I am confident the life sciences industry will go from strength to strength and the UK can continue to build on its rich scientific heritage."
Commenting, Steve Oldfield, Managing Director UK & Ireland of Sanofi and Co-chair of DH/ABPI Metrics Oversight Group, said:
"Despite the UK having amongst the lowest medicine prices in Europe and a stable medicines budget, we still struggle to get the most innovative treatments to UK patients. It is particularly frustrating given that many of these medicines are recommended for use by NICE and proven to be cost effective. The proportion of money spent on new medicines is actually set to decline in the next three years, which shows we are not moving in the right direction. The Innovation, Health and Wealth review will be central to turning round uptake in the UK and I am hopeful that redoubling our efforts in this area can make a real difference."
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Notes to editors
The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. Our members supply 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing over two-thirds of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.
The ABPI is recognised by Government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.