We have argued for many years that supporting patient access to innovation will in turn support the pharmaceutical industry and make the UK a more attractive place for our industry to do business.


This is becoming more important as the international arena becomes more competitive and the traditional ‘big pharma’ model becomes something far more fluid.

Government’s support for our industry is a significant step to opening up the NHS to research – this will make the UK a more inviting place to locate research and, therefore, investment. Ultimately, this leads to a better service for patients. As the Prime Minister recognises, the NHS thrives on innovation and specifically that innovation – when utilised – not only delivers patient outcomes, but can also be a key driver of long-term growth for the UK economy and for the life sciences sector.

We welcome a number of elements from today’s announcement, including:

  • The automatic inclusion of NICE recommended treatments on formulary. This means that clinicians will truly have the choice to prescribe the medicine that they think most appropriate for their patients.
  • The establishment of a NICE Implementation Collaborative (NIC) to support prompt implementation of NICE guidance, bringing all partners into the process of helping with barriers to patient access.
  • Development and publication of the innovation scorecard allowing a clear understanding of whether the reforms to NICE are really working.
  • An emphasis on clinical trials, aiming to re-establish the UK as a thriving centre for research and exploiting the benefits of this for patients.
  • Better access to health data (with appropriate protection for patient confidentiality) opens up the UK’s unique offering to provide a true picture of health challenges and benefits. 
  • The commitment to earlier access to medicines where appropriate, allows patients to benefit earlier from promising medicines whilst improving what we know about how these medicines work.
  • Plans to simplify regulation, reducing gold plating and unnecessary bureaucracy will help industry move further and faster, and make the UK a more attractive place to locate business. The initiative of a group of experts including industry to meet regularly to discuss regulation is welcomed.

In summary, we welcome the support for the whole life science ecosystem; including the gap funding for early stage research and SMEs. As the pharmaceutical industry comes under new global pressures, the survival of the sector is reliant on this health ecosystem and this initiative should set the UK apart as a front runner.

This launch marks a significant step forward for the life sciences industries in the UK. It is crucial that the commitments made today are made a reality in our everyday working practices, and that they are implemented quickly to maintain confidence that this marks a change in what the UK can offer industry.

Stephen Whitehead
ABPI Chief Executive 

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