But since we've heard only a few words from Simon, I hope you will allow me taking the stage for just a bit …
I'm very proud that my first action as the new President of the ABPI is to say a heartfelt thanks on behalf of the membership for everything Simon Jose has achieved for the ABPI and for the pharmaceutical industry in the last two years.
Simon, on behalf of the ABPI Board, we will miss you and wish you the very best of luck in your new role at GSK. It has been a privilege and a pleasure working with you ...
I was very fortunate to be able to come back here, to the country where I was born, and run MSD two and a half years ago. I feel even more fortunate and greatly honoured to be able to lead the ABPI at this critical time for the industry. Those who have come before me ... and some of you are here with us tonight ... will understand how it feels to take on the honour of this role and also ...the very great responsibility that comes with it.
That responsibility is to represent the very best of research and development and business in the UK pharmaceutical industry ... 90 per cent of the branded medicines in the UK come from ABPI members.
We are very proud of our heritage. Some of the world's most effective medicines have been developed in the UK. One fifth of the world's top 100 in fact ...
And we are very proud of our contribution ... to our economy ... to our NHS ... and to the future of healthcare. We contribute nearly 7 billion trade surplus to the UK economy every year – greater than any other sector. We employ thousands of scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses and other highly skilled professionals.
Critical for all of us is the need to continue to collaborate. The relationship between the industry and healthcare continues to evolve from the inventors and sellers of medicines to partners in the delivery of patient care.
Collaboration between industry and healthcare professionals has the potential to deliver significant patient benefit above and beyond what may be delivered by any party in isolation.
Our recently published Guidance on Collaboration, for which we teamed up with NHS groups, charities, government and publishers, shows just how important joint working will prove to be. So I was very pleased today when we launched our new NHS Partnership team.
This is such an exciting development for the ABPI and our members because it will help us to establish strong, sustainable relationships between industry and key regional NHS figures. We will be able to address a range of healthcare challenges around the delivery of high quality health care and hopefully spur more rapid access and uptake of innovative medicines.
But it also reflects the fundamental challenges facing the NHS in being able to actually deliver high quality health care in the UK. The reforms outlined in the Health and Social Care bill represent some of the most significant changes we may ever see in the NHS.
We will have:
Structural changes to the NHS
New stakeholders such as CCGs
A broader definition of the value of medicine.
This means, more than ever, that we must work in collaboration and form meaningful partnerships for the ultimate benefit of improving patient care. It reflects a fundamental change in the way we run our business. But also a fundamental change in the way the NHS is focused.
All of us understand and embrace the very urgent need to really put the patient at the centre of everything we do. The future of healthcare has exactly the same guiding principle at its centre. We already live in a society more complex than our parents could possibly have imagined. We routinely live longer than our grandparents ever thought could happen.
But we face a future where diseases of the past such as polio or TB are being replaced by scenarios where within ten years over 1 million people in the UK will be living with dementia, in a society that isn't properly geared up to treat them or care for them. Let's not forget that dementia already costs the UK economy £23bn per year.
Our contribution to society in this context is to ensure that the future of medicine takes on these huge challenges and does everything it can to speed up the quest for new and better medicines for dementia as well as other debilitating diseases.
By 2050 there will be well over 100 million people living with dementia worldwide, and this is one of the many diseases for which our members currently have medicines in the pipeline which makes me feel optimistic and proud about making contributions that really matter.
We have medicines for extremely rare conditions that will only affect a few people in the world. We can offer personalised medicine for your gene type and your particular condition. And once you start taking it, we can understand how your medicine works with everything else going on in your life.
Our reason for existing as an industry is to develop new science and turn it into new treatments for the conditions that continue to be a source of difficulty, pain and sadness in our society.
We do this by applying science, medical expertise and entrepreneurship to enable us to continue to innovate.
But we also contribute to the health and well-being of patients by continuing to invest billions of pounds and being willing to take the significant risks that are associated with finding these new and innovative medicines.
Now I come to a really difficult issue. One that affects all aspects of our industry, potentially all patients, as well as prescribers, carers and families.
Everything I've said up until now means very little to a patient who cannot get their hands on the medicines they need. And I am sorry to say that the rate at which new medicines become available for patients in the UK is slower than the European average. In fact, for cancer medicines, it's 33 per cent slower.
So as the reformed NHS takes shape and we all work out how the new commissioning machinery works, our industry is going to focus renewed efforts to ensure that our medicines reach the people that need them. Fortunately the new Innovation, Health and Wealth team and the ABPI membership are aligned on this issue.
But we'll also need to make sure that the next pricing scheme includes mechanisms to enable patients to gain access to medicines which will enhance the quality of their lives. A common, but mistaken view that I want to also address is that medicines in the UK are expensive. I hear references to a 'drugs bill' or this belief that cutting the drugs bill will fix the problems of the NHS.
The prices of medicines in the UK are very reasonable.
Our medicines are among the lowest priced in Europe.
And the proportion the NHS spends on medicines has actually fallen over the last few years.
So, the debate around the value of medicines requires our continued and focused attention to ensure:
We see a fair price for our medicines, patients benefit from faster uptake and we have a system that recognises and supports innovation and continues to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to invest in the UK.
So, I am looking forward to leading the ABPI as the dynamic industry association which is fully committed to changing with the NHS and adapting to the new health care environment.
Our members - from the large, global organisations to the smallest start-ups - are very proud of the contribution we already make to the health and wealth of the nation.
We look forward to continuing and strengthening our vital partnership with the NHS to improve the quality of care for all patients in the UK.
And to making sure that our industry continues to support healthcare innovation for generations to come.
So, with that I thank you for the honour and privilege of representing our industry during this critical time and look forward to working with you all.