UK Prix Galien awards: celebrating life-changing medicines

The value that the best new innovative medicines bring to patients will be recognised at this year’s UK Prix Galien awards, to be held at the Houses of Parliament. Companies are now invited to submit their entries to the prestigious awards.



Chris Ross


Anyone who has seen the BBC’s Graham Norton Show will be familiar with the closing item where members of the public are invited to sit in the ‘Red Chair’ to tell an amusing anecdote – at the risk of the chair being flipped backwards by an A-list guest should their story be deemed uninteresting.

A recent instalment featured the story of a young Glaswegian whose naked experience on a night train in South Africa had caused him much embarrassment. He escaped Red Chair humiliation, making it all the way through his yarn without being flipped. But he almost didn’t make it to the start line. Norton toyed with the idea of ejecting the Scotsman when he learned that the man was a brand manager for a global pharmaceutical company. The audience hissed, the presenter scowled and the A-listers shifted nervously in their seats. Reluctantly, they allowed him to stay. And he won them over.

The whole incident made me ponder: what is it about an industry that invests billions of dollars in saving lives and curing disease that attracts such public derision? Had the story-teller worked for Carlsberg, he’d have been cheered to the rafters. Probably. But public consensus says that pharma is the Cruella De Vil sector, the pantomime villain industry. Well forgive the cliché, but “oh no it isn’t.”

The UK pharma industry has been grappling with an image problem for many years. Yet its commitment to improving global health is often overlooked. With a daily investment of £11.5 million in R&D, the sector spends more than any other UK industry on developing new innovations. It’s no surprise that a seventh of the top 100 medicines in use today were developed in British laboratories, second only to the US. Fundamentally, UK innovations bring health benefits to people all over the world, reducing mortality and morbidity and enhancing quality of life for countless patients. UK pharma doesn’t warrant the Red Chair – it deserves the red carpet.

Thankfully, it can get it. 2016 sees the return of the biannual UK Prix Galien Awards, which celebrate the industry’s outstanding efforts to improve the human condition through the development of novel, high-value medicines. The Awards have been described by Nobel Laureates as ‘a Nobel Prize for pharmaceutical research’. And never mind Graham Norton, political heavyweights such as Barack Obama, Ban Ki Moon, Tony Blair and John Major are among the many to have acclaimed the prestige of Prix Galien and the industry it represents.

UK Prix Galien recognises excellence in three categories; Innovative Products, Orphan Products and, new for 2016, Real World Evidence. The judging panel – led by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of the MHRA and founding chair at NICE – will be looking for innovations that demonstrate the most significant overall contribution to patient care in the UK in terms of clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness and innovation.

Registration for entries for the 2016 Awards is currently open – it closes, in this leap year, on 29 February. So if you’ve got a product that can demonstrate a similar leap in science or health outcomes, UK Prix Galien provides an opportunity to give the team behind it the acclaim they deserve. It also provides a unique opportunity to have clinical and health economic data scrutinised by an independent panel comprised of some of the most respected healthcare leaders in the UK. In an environment dominated by the pursuit of value, that scrutiny alone brings a high value that can’t be attained in any other way.

So who can enter? Well, products launched or granted a new indication in the UK between 1 January 2014 and 31 March 2016 are eligible for the Innovative and Orphan Product categories. The Real-World Evidence Award is open to medicines that have either won or received a commendation at previous UK Prix Galien Awards, within their licensed indication.

In an era when the perceived value of pharma can often be obscured by unwanted headlines or unmerited criticism, perhaps the most obvious real-world evidence can be found by reflecting on the many successes the UK industry has achieved in its battle to alleviate disease. A look back through the annals of history reveals that some of pharma’s most well-known brands have been honoured with a UK Prix Galien medal for innovation. Medicines like Herceptin, Xarelto, Viagra, Glivec and Rotarix have all won the coveted prize since the turn of the century. Further back, products like Zocor, Tagamet, Singulair and Zyprexa were similarly feted.

That’s real-world evidence. And the successes of each of those products, and the many others that have transformed patients’ lives all over the world, are the reason why the UK pharma industry should celebrate and, indeed, promote its continued achievements. Prix Galien provides an internationally-renowned platform that enables it to do that.

So does the data for your product tell a compelling story? More compelling than the travails of a hapless Scotsman travelling across South Africa? If it does, why not enter it for UK Prix Galien 2016? Forget the Red Chair – aim for a seat at the top table of pharma innovation, and share your successes at the House of Commons on 21st September 2016.

After all, if a naked brand manager from Glasgow can win over the celebrity might of Graham Norton and Ralph Fiennes, the pharma industry can boast much more to win over a sceptical public.
Registration for entries closes on 29 February 2016. Full details on the entry process and criteria is available at

About the author:

Chris Ross is Head of Buzz at ValueBase Healthcare, the UK partner for Prix Galien.

Read more on previous award winners:

UK Prix Galien: Astellas C. diff drug on innovation shortlist