Ask the ABPI – your most important questions answered

pharmafield logo - pharma news


Regulation questions:

Our readers take the opportunity to ask ABPI leaders questions about the industry landscape, the regulatory environment, the future and much more.  


Andreas Knight, Senior Recruitment Consultant, CHASE: 

With the impending exit from the EU, how does the ABPI think UK pharma will be impacted and are there immediate plans in place?


Rebecca Lumsden, ABPI Head of Science Policy:

As part of the UK/EU ‘Life Sciences Transition Programme’, the ABPI is working alongside our members at the BioIndustry Association to engage the life sciences sector and outline the work needed to create a world-leading life sciences environment in the UK, outside the EU.

We have welcomed the Government’s commitment to our industry and the broader Life Sciences ecosystem so far. ‘Making the UK the best place for science and innovation’ is one of the Prime Minister’s 12 Brexit negotiation priorities and a core pillar of the new industrial strategy, with new funding made available by the Chancellor for science.

Research and development, however, is a global endeavour. To ensure the UK continues to ‘punch above its weight’ we need to continue welcoming highly-skilled talent and maintain access to international scientific networks. Access to international collaborations, such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative, are highly valuable for both academic and industry researchers.



Polly Appleby, Account Manager, Star Medical: 

What has most impressed the ABPI about UK pharma’s recent digital initiatives?


Aileen Thompson, ABPI Executive Director, Communications:

Digital campaigns allow us to celebrate the scientific advances our industry is making and share these with new audiences, including the patients and public. Earlier this year we launched ‘Only Just Begun’ – a major digital campaign focussing on the value of the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, and the commitment and passion of the people who work within it.

From the £4.2 billion we spend in the UK on R&D, to the £30.7bn contributed to UK GDP in 2015, we are promoting our achievements now, more than ever, by sharing content. We’re also seeing an uptake in activity and engagement across our social media channels, including Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s great to see the interest growing in our industry through digital platforms.



Lucy Pohling, Account Executive, GCI Health: 

How will the ABPI continue to drive joint working, transparency and innovation in the future?


Harriet Lewis, ABPI NHS Engagement Partner (North):

Our industry already works in partnership with the NHS, charities and other healthcare organisations for the benefit of patients. This year, we have made the first steps towards a unique new partnership with the NHS in Manchester. The agreement will allow Greater Manchester to explore new ways of paying for medicines based on patient outcomes – enabling the £1 billion spent on medicines in the region to be as beneficial to the local population as possible.

The partnership will also enable companies to work with Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to improve the utilisation of medicines and the adoption of innovative medicines, using the unique data capabilities of Greater Manchester.

The Salford Lung Study – effectively a real time clinical trial for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder – is another example of how collaborative joint working is helping develop a new swathe of medicines. Initiatives like this show that when the NHS embraces innovation, patients benefit, while industry expertise is recognised and welcomed across the country in a growing number of collaborations.



John Pinching, Editor, Pf Magazine: 

The ABPI has had some high-profile gains in terms of members in recent times – what are the organisation’s immediate aims for 2017?


Sam Ogden, ABPI Chief of Staff:

The ABPI welcomed seven new innovative, research-based large, medium and small biopharmaceutical members companies in 2016. Together our members provide 80% of branded medicine to the NHS. This is an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK and we are sure that 2017 will be a seminal year for the life sciences sector, and the country as a whole.

Our focus this year is to continue demonstrating the story of our science, innovation and value to healthcare, patients and the economy. This focus is consistent with our priorities, which include enhancing our industry reputation, delivering the current PPRS, improving access and uptake of new medicines and building our relationship with the NHS.

We want to continue to identify opportunities and make the UK domestic landscape attractive for clinical development and the manufacturing of medicines. We would say to any prospective new members – come and join us and help to shape this.



Hannah O’Neill, Operations Director, Virgo Health: 

Patient groups’ perception of pharma has declined in every area – what does the ABPI make of this and what action must UK pharma take?


Karen Borrer, ABPI Head of Reputation:

The pharmaceutical industry is on the brink of a golden age of innovation, with some 7000 medicines in the pipeline. As medicines development becomes increasingly complex and we enter an era of ever more personalised medicines, it is critical that we engage with and use the knowledge of patients by involving them at every step.

Industry works with patients through the European Patients’ Academy, for example, which focuses on increasing the capacity and capability of patients to understand and contribute to medicines research and development through education.

We also continue to work on improving the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation. Disclosure UK makes the transfer of value between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals more transparent than ever before, with payments or benefits made in kind to health professionals and healthcare organisations in the UK, publicly accessible on a searchable database.

Initiatives like this help us to assure patients and members of the public that we are committed to open-working with colleagues in the NHS and charities. We cannot make the medical advancements needed without working together with patients, health professionals, academics and other experts and we must find ways to do this in a transparent and open way. We have made good progress on this and will continue to look for ways to improve further.



Julian Given, Chief Officer, Washington Community Health Care: 

How do you view the proposal document – published in January – about changing the arrangements for NICE appraisals?


Paul Catchpole, ABPI Value & Access Director:

The ABPI is clear – we believe changes, which have now been put in place by NICE/NHS England and will introduce a £20m budget test for innovative new treatments, break the Conservative Party’s 2015 Manifesto promise to speed up the introduction of cost-effective medicines into the NHS.

In a recent member survey – when asked about the impact of the Budget Test – 71% of respondents said they believed it meant their companies would prioritise launching new medicines in European countries over the UK; and 89% said they believed it will mean patient access to cost-effective medicines in the UK will decrease.

Thousands of patients may have to wait longer for treatment for conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while those medicines which will often stand to benefit the most people are caught up in the system. If the NHS became more effective in its planning it could manage the introduction of new medicines in a more coherent way.

Use of new medicines in the UK is already low, with patients seven times more likely to get a newly launched medicine in places like Germany or France. While Scotland and Wales are both making some helpful strides in improving the use of new medicines, English patients appear to be facing more barriers than ever before. As we head towards Brexit, we should be catching up with Europe, not falling further behind. Ultimately, we would like to see these plans paused while better solutions are found.   


Go to