• Communications

    Posted in category News by Communications on 29/04/2013

    Speech by ABPI President Deepak Khanna at the ABPI's Annual Conference 2013 (abridged version)

You’ve heard very eloquently from Chris on his vision of the future of healthcare. I’m going to speak to you about how pharma can play a really meaningful role in that future.


And first let me just say how immensely proud I am to be part of an industry that makes such a difference to people’s lives. We save and change hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK every year.

We also improve quality of life at what may seem a mundane level but is actually really important to people, and often overlooked. Through treating allergies and other more minor disorders we help whole families to lead better lives together. It’s the medicines that come from the pharma industry that helps my son control his allergies. And it is the medicines that come from the pharma industry that help my mother with her arthritis pain. I’m sure you all have similar experiences too. This ability to improve people's quality of life, that’s something to treasure and be very proud of.

When I was preparing for this speech today, I reflected on where healthcare in the UK is headed. From all the conversations I have about this, it seems clear that, as Chris has set out, integrated care based around the patient is where the future of healthcare needs to be. The real question is how we get there.

Squaring the circle of greater need with static budgets is a huge challenge, and the original ‘Nicholson challenge’ put this in stark financial terms: the NHS needed to save £20bn by 2015.

We’re just two years away from this deadline and in the intervening period a new government has put in place curbs on public spending. But the Public Accounts Committee recently expressed concern that savings in the NHS are being achieved by rationing care and making crude cuts, including cuts to spending on medicines.

This is absolutely the wrong way to go about things. We all know this. The scale of the challenge is simply too great for salami-slicing, it calls for system change.  For step-change. And for visionary change.

So if the future of healthcare is an integrated system with greater prevention and services centred around the patient, with greater devolution of care into the community, what is the biggest barrier to making this change?

Before I seek to answer that question, I want to say one thing up front. Survival for the NHS and survival for the pharma industry in the future will be based on the partnership approach that has been the focus of so much of our Conference today. I think it’s worth reminding ourselves why partnership between the pharma industry and the NHS is such a compelling proposition.

The pharmaceutical industry is keenly aware of its special mission. We are not just a business like any other. I am passionate about the responsibility that we have to patients. This is a mission that we share with the NHS and this is what lies at the heart of our joint working with the NHS.

But to fully play our part in the future of healthcare, I believe we need to examine the basis of our relationship with the NHS more deeply.

In preparing for today, I reflected further on this shared mission of ours. There is a cultural barrier that I think needs to be acknowledged explicitly by both the industry and the NHS, and worked on from both sides. If we don’t talk about this, don’t challenge each other to change, even more meaningful partnership between pharma and the NHS will remain elusive.

The barrier is all about how we have interacted in the past. Our past relationship has been transactional.  We made medicines, worked with the NHS and NICE to gain reimbursement and then promoted the benefits of our products to HCPs. We were the makers and sellers of medicines. That is how we interacted with our stakeholders. 

The evolution is now we must demonstrate the value of our products to the entire healthcare system. We must change our focus to demonstrate the value of our products to improving patient care and work with all stakeholders around this central mission of improving the quality of care and being part of the solution in the country.  It is an integrated partnership.  One that includes the DH, includes the NHS in the four nations, working with NICE working with CCGs and many other stakeholders in a very different way to support an integrated system. All with the mutual goal of improving patient care. 

This same cultural barrier exists within the NHS. Whereas they viewed the relationship with the industry as transactional and viewed medicines as a siloed cost within the system. 

Bridging this cultural gap is the answer to taking our partnership with the NHS to a higher level.

How does pharma bridge the gap? Our challenge is in demonstrating the value of today’s medicines to today’s NHS.

How does the NHS bridge the gap? Its challenge is in changing its approach to address future sustainability, not just today’s cost pressures, with medicines as part of that integral solution.

Neither can exist without the other….

These are the barriers in the way of ever more meaningful partnership between the pharma industry and the NHS. While we have partnership on our shared agenda, we need to take this further by bridging this cultural gap and focusing on our joint mission in order to bring greater value to us both and ultimately for patients.

With this challenge in your minds, I want to outline the three areas where pharma has a role in bringing about the future of healthcare – prevention, early intervention and treatment.

Prevention depends in large part on raising public awareness of symptoms and empowering patients. Pharma companies have long worked to improve awareness of certain conditions and have considerable experience in doing this. But we need to do much more in this area to be truly patient centred.

Let’s think about it from the patient point of view – would you go to a pharma company for information and support on your condition, or would you go to a patient support organisation? I believe we need to work much more closely with patient groups, the NHS and other support organisations, in order to empower patients.

Now let’s look at early intervention. Early intervention is key in preventing the progression of disease and complications associated with that, all of which adds costs to the NHS and, of course, is furthering the suffering of the patient.

It’s clear that medicines have a role in preventing disease progression and complications, often avoiding the need for further care or for more aggressive treatment such as surgery.

Beyond our medicines, we’re also developing our business models to leverage our expertise with our medicines and help deliver earlier and better care, centred around the patient.  For example, working to provide homecare services for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease, arthritis and HIV.

So we have looked at prevention and early intervention. Next let’s look at optimal treatment in an integrated healthcare system.

Here I think is where pharma is in a really unique and special place. Through medicines and pharma companies’ expertise in their individual products, we have a great offering to help the NHS deliver care in a better way. A more efficient  way. A more patient-centred way.

The introduction of new, innovative medicines to the health system can be – and should be – a catalyst for changing treatment pathways. And this in turn is key to unlocking a step-change in productivity and efficiency in the NHS, addressing its financial challenge while treating patients now, and addressing its sustainability for the patients of the future.

A really important example is when we look at meeting the challenge of an ageing population afflicted with chronic and long-term conditions. Millions of patients suffering with Alzheimer’s are going to need care in the years to come; a treatment is badly needed. Accordingly, the pharma industry has more than 200 medicines in development addressing this crucial area of unmet need.

It’s pretty clear where the challenge I mentioned earlier comes in here. When these new dementia medicines are made available, the NHS needs to adopt them quickly throughout the country in order for the NHS and for patients to reap the benefits.

Through prevention, early intervention and treatment, my vision for the future is one in which pharma plays a more meaningful role to patients and to the NHS.

This will require leadership and the courage to make changes in how things are done, on both sides, and I look forward to working with the new NHS to deliver  a step-change in how pharma delivers its special mission, as the developers of medicines, to improve patient care.

Before I close, I want to say a special thank you to Justin Webb for doing such an excellent job facilitating today as well as our great speakers.  I also want to thank our sponsors and exhibitors and to thank you, the audience, for your attention and participation today.

This room is now being prepared for tonight’s dinner, and for those of you attending tonight the drinks will start at 6.45 in the Plaza Suites. In the meantime I wish those of you not returning tonight a safe and pleasant journey home and thank you again for attending.

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