• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 10/04/2014

    ‘Mind the Gap’: New report finds growing divide between medicines development and the commercial environment

Over half of the active products in the global industry research pipeline are personalised medicines, and the UK healthcare system is at risk of failing to adapt to this new challenge, a new report published today reveals.


​The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) discussion paper, Securing a Future for Innovative Medicines, has been published to coincide with the ABPI Annual Conference 2014. The report highlights the emergence of specialised medicines as a key challenge for the UK pharmaceutical industry and says that for the commercial environment in the UK to respond to this challenge there needs to be a fundamental shift in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) approaches.

But changes are occurring in the UK and at a European level, in the form of pioneering joint-working initiatives involving NHS and industry.  The report also points to NICE’s Highly Specialised Technology (HST) programme which has the potential to make a big difference to how specialised medicines for very rare diseases are evaluated.

The report highlights further challenges including rising drug development costs and difficulty with patient recruitment for clinical trials, pointing out that around 80% of clinical trials do not meet patient recruitment timelines, and on average last 30-42% longer than companies initially plan for1.  To overcome this, the UK needs to improve trial performance by enabling faster patient enrolment, encouraging the use of electronic health records and streamlining the research governance process.

Commenting on the report, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

“This report sheds new light on the challenges facing the UK pharmaceutical industry.  Whilst companies are refocusing their pipelines towards specialised and stratified medicines, a gap is opening up between the commercial environment the industry currently operates in, and the new research and development (R&D) environment the industry is moving towards.  If we don’t address this gap soon, patients will be unable to access the best treatments and the UK economy will suffer. 

“It is vital that our industry continues to work closely with the NHS and academia to ensure that we become a world leader in stratified medicine, as well as the location of choice for pharmaceutical R&D from across the globe.”

The Securing a Future for Innovative Medicines discussion paper was prepared for the ABPI by the Office of Health Economics (OHE). Professor Adrian Towse, Director of the OHE, said:

“Global pharmaceutical R&D is changing, and the UK needs to adapt to the new environment in order to retain its status as a leading location for biomedical R&D, both pre and post-launch.  We must not forget that there are already examples of best practice where changes are occurring in the UK and at European level.  Only when industry, academia and NHS work together and spread best practice will we better understand how changes in drug development will alter the relationship between the research and commercial elements of the pharmaceutical industry for the NHS.”


Notes to editors:

There are currently over 5,600 active products in the global industry research pipeline of which 60% are specialty medicines (IMS, 2013)

1 Quintiles, undated; Shah 2013. Available at:  http://www.quintiles.com/services/capabilities/clinical/patient-investigatorrecruitment/

The report was developed by the Office of Health Economics (OHE) for the ABPI to coincide with the ABPI’s Annual Conference on 10 April 2014.  A full copy of the report is available here

About the ABPI

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.

About the OHE

The Office of Health Economics conducts research and provides consultancy services on economics and related policy issues that affect health care and the life sciences industries.  The OHE’s work informs decision making about health care and pharmaceutical issues at the UK, regional and international levels.

Media enquiries

ABPI Press Office

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 1410 or +44 (0) 20 7747 1441

Mobile: +44 (0) 7850 312064 or +44 (0) 7808 641811 Email: pressoffice@abpi.org.uk

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