• Stephen Whitehead

    Posted in category Opinion by Stephen Whitehead on 01/03/2013

    Perceptions count: why Britain must be seen as being open for business

Comments made by John Castellani (Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) in The Times reveal that there is a global perception that the NHS is not a good place for innovative life sciences companies to do business.


This is despite the welcome recognition from the Government of the need to improve the operating environment for pharmaceutical companies and the range of initiatives to make the UK a more attractive place to do business.  Initiatives such as Innovation, Health and Wealth, tax incentives for research and development and efforts to streamline clinical research will – if fully implemented – make a real difference. They build on one of the UK’s most precious assets – the NHS – recognising that a truly national health service has the ability to be a unique selling point, enabling us to harness the power of the genomics revolution and realise the potential of collecting real world data and applying it to inform and improve the quality of care of future generations of patients.

But perceptions matter. Mr Castellani said that the UK is “frightening away” investment in medical research by making it too difficult to get new medicines adopted by the NHS, resulting in research investment shifting to countries such as the US and Japan. Put simply, as long as the UK is seen as blocking routine access to four out of ten new medicines, then it will be difficult to convince the global life sciences investment community that the UK should be the destination of choice. Without usage of the latest treatments, future generations of clinical trials will be more difficult to conduct in the UK, even if the will to do so exists.

This is why we need a better reimbursement process for new treatments, which better reflects the realities and challenges of modern medicine and enables the UK to keep pace with international standards of clinical practice.  Other measures are of course important, but only creating a environment where the latest medicines are approved and used will establish a perception that Britain is open for business.

Stephen Whitehead

ABPI Chief Executive

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