I took on this role as I feel passionately about the pharmaceutical industry – the magnitude of our industry’s impact on global healthcare is immeasurable. All of us have been positively effected by the medicines our industry has researched, developed and produced – whether its ourselves, our friends and family, or even our pets, everyone has been touched by this industry. But despite this, our reputation still has a lot to do to catch-up with our reality.
In a recent interview I gave with a journalist I was posed an interesting question:
If you heard about the pharmaceutical industry for the first time, and you were told that they had produced all these medicines that had improved and saved so many lives, you would assume that it would be an industry that is loved; however, this is not always the case. Why do you think that is?
Well, as the CEO of the ABPI my role is to represent our industry, and I am prepared to recognise that we have not always got it right in the past. We must examine our legacy, and we must improve the way we are perceived. Reputation challenges will cause problems to working partnerships between our industry and the NHS, and this will not help patients. We have made progress in this area, but we still have some way to go.
Our industry is part of the solution, not the problem. In this time of financial constraint the role of industry is more crucial than ever before - the latest figures indicate that industry leads the way in research and development - with nearly four and a half billion pound invested each year1. And our patient access schemes are vital to both the NHS and the patients they benefit.
The process of research, development and manufacture generates huge costs. For industry to continue innovating and producing new medicines and treatments, and to fulfil the unmet clinical needs of the future, we must continue this process. Patient healthcare needs are the key consideration, and we must ensure the pharmaceutical industry is in a position to meet these needs.
This is why I have taken on this role – to modernise our industry and in turn to improve our public perception, and improve our reputation within healthcare. My first interview as CEO of the ABPI was published in The Times last Friday, and I hope for many more interviews to follow. I want to speak up on behalf of our industry, which does so much for so many. And I want those outside our industry to understand how significant our role has been, and how important it will continue to be.
Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the ABPI
Read Stephen’s first public speech, which he gave at the ABPI Innovation Reception on 7 September 2011, here.
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