Invest in NHS to boost life sciences, says pharma body

The government should invest in the National Health Service, to make it the best place to research, develop and launch new drugs as part of its industrial strategy, the UK’s pharma trade body has said.

In a response to Theresa May’s industrial strategy, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) welcomed the strong focus on science and innovation in the document outlining a vision for business in post-Brexit Britain.

The ABPI praised the strategy for referring to implementation of recommendations in the Accelerated Access Review – a document from former life sciences minister George Freeman aimed at improving access to innovative medicines and medical treatments.

In the industrial strategy the government said it was “responding” to the review, although in the document itself it made more reference to diagnostics and digital health, rather than drugs.

However, proposals to support adoption of new health technologies, and better “horizon scanning” for innovative technologies that could improve care will likely be welcomed by the industry.

The green paper also suggests “bulk buying” innovative products – although it’s less clear whether the industry would support this as this would involve discounted prices.

The ABPI chief executive, Mike Thompson, said the organisation was “pleased” that the government had “prioritised science and innovation” in the strategy.

Thompson noted in a statement that the UK pharma industry is worth £60 billion a year to the economy, employing 220,000 highly skilled people across the UK.

He added: “If we play to our strengths, we can go even further and create one of the world’s pre-eminent hubs for life sciences research and investment. The NHS can best respond to the increasing healthcare demands of our population by embracing innovation. By working together to improve how we gather and use health data we can deliver the next generation of medicines to UK patients.”

“The Life Sciences industry is ready and well-placed to play a leading role in creating a prosperous and dynamic post-Brexit Britain.”

The BioIndustry Association (BIA), representing biotechs, sits with the ABPI on the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board, chaired by Sir John Bell, which is working on a strategy to strengthen the sector over the next decade.

BIA chief executive Steve Bates

BIA chief executive Steve Bates

BIA chief executive, Steve Bates, said: “The industrial strategy should capitalise on the UK’s strong fundamentals that underpin our vision and help attract investment to the UK, stimulate the growth of our domestic industry, deliver effective and efficient healthcare for future generations, seize the opportunity of the UK’s lead in efficient and effective regulation of new technologies and demonstrate that the UK is open for business. We look forward to engaging.”

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