Simon Jose's speech from the ABPI Annual Conference and Dinner 2011

Simon Jose​My lords, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues.

From industry, the health service, parliament, patients’ organisations, royal colleges and the media. 

It’s a real pleasure to see you all here this evening.

Many of you have been our guests in the past and we are delighted to see you again.

And welcome to new colleagues and guests, in particular, Stephen Whitehead who takes on the role of chief executive at the ABPI from 1 June. Welcome Stephen.

We’re delighted to welcome David Willets and Earl Howe. Earl Howe will be doing us the honour of addressing us later.

Richard, given the occasion it is only be right for us to reflect for a  few minutes on the achievements you have made for our industry….and more broadly….over the last six years.

You’ve spent much of your time committed to challenging the status quo.

You realised we needed to listen and take action to change things that had a negative impact on our relationship with the health service.

You took a personal interest in building trust and developing for industry a more accountable contract….and you were a founding member of the Royal College of Physicians Pharmaceutical Forum.

You were rightly very proud of the recent joint statement from colleagues across the health sector, supporting the changes to the ABPI Code of Practice.

Not everyone will be familiar with them so let me tell you that this included an end to the practice of companies providing branded pens and post its to healthcare professionals.

You were perhaps a little less happy when, as part of your leaving present from the Board, we emptied our storage facilities of branded items and gave them all to you.

And Mrs Barker, Michaela…..who is here tonight…..was deeply underwhelmed by our generosity, when she realised you were going to bring it all home to kit out your new office – to complement that nice new chair!

Richard, there simply isn’t time to list everything you have done, so I am going to highlight a few key things.

You played a key role in bringing together the ABPI with other trade associations in the UK to have connected dialogue with Government under the auspices of the Office of Life Sciences.

This led to the creation of Life Sciences UK….of which you have been the first chair….a body that will help unify industry’s voice with Government.

You have been a champion of creating partnerships between industry and the UK’s excellent science base.

The creation of the UK Life Sciences Capability Cluster in joint and respiratory inflammatory disease…..

the Athenaeum Group…..streamlining the process of medicines development…..

and the Stem Cells for Safer Medicines …..exploiting the UK’s lead in stem cells for predictive toxicology.

You have represented the UK and the UK industry overseas. Colleagues from EFPIA and IFPMA will attest to your having played a key role in Europe and further afield.

In short, you have joined the ranks of those who can truly say that they have made a positive difference to the industry and to the delivery of healthcare in the UK. 

Richard, you have really made your mark. But.….you don’t have to take my word for it.

Your colleagues and friends were delighted to be asked to contribute to a special book marking your time at the ABPI. Richard please come up…….

And it’s only right that we take this opportunity to thank Michaela for supporting Richard….and putting up with all the late nights and early starts…

Richard, on behalf of all your friends and colleagues here tonight, I thank you for your dedication, your commitment and all the hard work you have put into representing our industry. Thank you.

It’s important to look at some of the critical issues we currently face….as an industry, a government and as the NHS.

As an industry we are extremely diverse.

We have global companies and those that operate only in the UK. We have small companies and we have large companies and everything in between.

And we all share a passionate commitment to improve health and healthcare…..and bring new and innovative medicine to patients….to bring medicines to life.

But we have something else in common too.

We’re all living and operating in a period of unprecedented turbulence in the global biopharmaceutical sector.

Companies are challenged by patent expiries and R&D productivity.

We have higher regulatory hurdles and increasing demands from payers and pressure on prices.

Across our industry, from the smallest to the largest company, we’re changing our business models…. we’re realigning our cost base….. and we’re making difficult investment choices.

Our industry is vibrating with change.

In this period of global sector instability the Government must be attuned to these choices so the UK can maintain…..or even look to grow….its share of global investment.

That’s why we support and applaud Government’s recent decisions..... the protection of health and science spending......the focus on our sector in the Growth Review…...the creation of the Patent Box......maintenance of R&D tax credits for large companies and an increase for small companies…..and stimulating an improvement in the clinical trials environment through implementation of the Academy of Medical Sciences Report.

These will create a strong environment where the UK can seek to grow its share of our global investment and in so doing create an even stronger UK based pharmaceutical industry…….. critical to growing and rebalancing the economy.

However, it is equally important for us to have a strong domestic market and an NHS that supports access and diffusion of new and innovative medicines.

For many years the UK had a strong domestic market … early launch, stable market with good uptake of new innovation. 

Today the UK is characterised by relatively low prices…..compared to other European countries….. a very efficient generics market and  slow adoption of new medicines.

Taken together this yields a medicines bill that represents only 1 per cent of GDP…..also amongst the lowest in Europe.

An efficient generics market is good thing..….and it is right that savings are made to create headroom for investment in new and innovative medicines.

But… slow uptake should be a concern to all of us….it’s a critical issue for patients .….and it’s a very serious issue for industry.

Much has been said about the impact of NICE on access to new medicines on the NHS.

Whilst this has undoubtedly been a factor, the increasing use of Patient Access Schemes and some flexibility on both sides has helped improve access to new medicines for patients that need them.

And the Cancer Drugs Fund too, has been welcomed by many as a vehicle to enable patients to get access to cancer medicines not approved by NICE.

Of growing concern however, are the slow uptake and variable use of new medicines even when NICE, SMC or the All Wales Group say they are cost effective. 

There are more and more examples where cost effective medicines face further assessments, formulary committees and restrictions at local level….introducing delay and inconsistency in availability for patients across the UK.

Some of you might be asking ‘why does this matter’?  ‘Isn’t this just industry’s problem?’ 

Well.…it does matter and it matters to all of us….wherever you stand in the system.

First and foremost, it matters to patients who should have quick and equitable access to medicines that have proven benefit.

Second…. given these medicines have been recommended as being cost effective, the NHS will only benefit from the “value created” …. Whether that is cost savings or improved outcomes….if the medicines actually get used as intended. 

And finally, it is critical to the economy and the maintenance of a strong global biopharmaceutical industry.

Let’s be clear ….. the UK, as the largest beneficiary of pharmaceutical investment outside the US, has a lot to gain from a successful global industry.

Conversely, it has a lot to lose if the industry shrinks….and we have seen this happening in the UK in recent months.

NICE has established global influence. Countries that directly reference UK prices represent a significant proportion of the world market.

Through its own actions in the domestic market the UK has a very strong influence on the health of the global pharmaceutical industry and therefore… indirectly….the magnitude of the benefit it gains from industry investment.

Simply put, the UK is disproportionately affected by the health of the global pharmaceutical industry…. over which it has disproportionate influence.

So.... for patients, for the NHS, for the UK economy …. and yes, for industry too …. it is critical that we address the diffusion of Innovation in our own home market.

We therefore welcome David Nicholson’s work on innovation in the NHS and his report due in November. ABPI members are looking forward to actively contributing.

So what now? Well.... I believe this period of intense change provides a real opportunity….. and we need to grasp it.

But there needs to be commitment….and some change….. from Industry, from Government and from the NHS.

Industry clearly needs to play its part.

We need to develop innovative medicines that deliver benefits for patients and value for the healthcare system. We need to demonstrate value through evidence and price our medicines based on the value they deliver. 

We need to evolve our current business model to create more opportunities for sharing risks and partnership.

More joint working across the spectrum …..from discovery……..through research…… to delivery to patients.

And we must ….ALWAYS…. act with transparency and integrity, with patients at the centre of our thinking. We need to build and earn the trust of society….. the medical profession in particular.

So what part does the Government and the  NHS play?


Given the high risk and long-term nature of our investment, stability and predictability are critical…. something the UK has always been good at.

The Government sent a very important signal to industry when it committed to honour the current PPRS and move gradually to a new scheme over the next few years.


Through the development of a new pricing and reimbursement system, government can ensure that the definition of value is broadened and captures important elements beyond simple cost effectiveness. 

We support the inclusion of disease burden and innovation the consultation on Value Based Pricing.

Finally….and perhaps most importantly…..champion the diffusion of innovation through the NHS. 

Once we have agreed a value for a medicine… today’s parlance…. cost effectiveness….we need to get rid of further barriers in the system that restrict clinical freedom and slow or prevent the medicine reaching patients.

Only then will patients and the NHS realise the value offered…. until that time it can only be hypothetical.

I believe passionately that the UK has a real opportunity to restore itself as the innovation centric home of the biopharmaceutical industry…. And it must be end to end innovation – from the bench to the patient.

We need an environment where research and development is encouraged and nurtured in partnership with the NHS and academia.

We need energy and creativity to find and develop new medicines that deliver meaningful improvements to patient outcomes.

We need the market conditions where industry can confidently make the long-term high risk investment required to deliver new and better medicines.

We need medicines to be embraced as an investment rather than a cost.

Getting this right will put the UK in a world-leading position to attract new investment and to grow the very substantial contribution that industry… from the smallest to the largest company…makes to the health and wealth of the UK. 

It’s a win for patients….a win for the UK economy…and a win for the NHS.

I truly believe that by working together we will save more lives, give more people comfort and make health care safer and more effective.

Thank you

Simon Jose, General Manager & Senior VP, GlaxoSmithKline (ABPI Board President)


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