The year ahead in pharma

Read this cover story in Pf Magazine here

Our industry experts predicted a number of challenges and opportunities facing pharma and healthcare in 2017, but what does the forecast hold for 2018?

Expert Panel

Steve Hopkinson, Commercial Director, Immunology Products Division, AbbVie UK

Jess Fine, Executive Director, External Affairs, MSD

Chris Molloy, CEO, Medicines Discovery Catapult

Jane Devenish, NHS Standards and Services Pharmacist, Well Pharmacy

Samir Paul, Director, Inicio Consulting

Jennifer Lee, Director of Health Economics, Market Access, Reimbursement & Advocacy, Janssen UK

Jean-Marie Aulnette, Vice President of EMEA sales, TraceLink

Carlos Machado, Serialisation Director, SEA Vision US


Steve Hopkinson: The challenge for our industry to keep improving the standard of care, while offering value, will remain important in 2018. It is a challenge AbbVie is well placed to rise to. In several of our fields, particularly auto-immune conditions and oncology, this will be the year where we start to see treatments that can fill unmet needs become a reality for patients.

Jess Fine: Although the UK has a world class science base, there remain many challenges in relation to patient access to medicines and the wider commercial landscape. This is hindering the creation of a more competitive environment in which to drive investment, jobs and growth for the future. We welcome the Government’s Industrial Strategy which offers the opportunity to deliver a stable and holistic approach to life sciences that recognises the full value of innovative medicines from early stage research all the way through to adoption.

Jean-Marie Aulnette: The biggest challenge the pharma industry faces is realising the full complexity and resources needed to meet the requirements of the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD). The often-overlooked reality is the complexity of implementing an FMD-compliant solution that needs to transfer data from manufacturers and regional hubs, to the EU hub.


Steve Hopkinson: We have learnt a huge amount to optimise care and prove value through collecting the right data. We measure the service we provide and give de-identified data to the treatment centres, so they can better understand what’s happening with their patients along their treatment journey. We also use a patient experience reporting tool to capture satisfaction feedback on the support programme. If these approaches can be widely adopted across the system and industry in 2018, then we stand the best chance of efficiently improving lives of patients.

Jennifer Lee: To drive sustained innovation in early diagnosis and development of precision medicines, the Government needs to invest, not only across the spectrum of R&D – from bench research to developing new clinical interventions – but also in rapidly adopting new innovations in the NHS. This will enable new treatments and technologies  to reach UK patients. Success hinges on collaboration between the global life sciences industry, the public sector and Government, harnessing the ability to pool expertise. Partnerships are a fundamental aspect of our business, and we’re continually seeking new opportunities to improve outcomes for patients.


Jess Fine: We believe this country can be well-placed to lead the world in delivering high-quality care for patients. To meet this ambition, however, it is essential that we address some very real concerns relating to the potential impact of the UK’s exit from the EU for our supply chain, regulatory environment and ability to attract talent to the UK. Ensuring UK regulatory alignment with the EU is essential to ensuring patient access to medicines is not disrupted.

Chris Molloy: Clearly the major impact of Brexit remains uncertain. We need to calmly look beyond; to the reality of a regional change within a global industry. As innovators we need to look for the opportunities change brings. The quality of the UK’s MHRA has traditionally had a strong influence on European Medicines Regulation and I do not see that stopping. While the UK will be outside the EU, the industry and the expert opinion remains in the UK, and biology knows no borders. I am confident that the transition will be managed and that both organisations will continue to collaborate closely in developing regional opinions and best practice. The post-Brexit world does give the UK the potential to carve a distinct role for itself in discovery and early clinical development.

Jennifer Lee: The UK is a global leader in life sciences, so a transition period is vital to enable businesses to adapt to the new operating environment. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit raises concerns over a range of subjects such as trade and supply, medicines regulation, access to talent, research and collaboration, clinical trials, and access of patients in the UK to medical innovation. We have welcomed the opportunity to participate in the BEIS Committee’s ongoing pharmaceuticals inquiry on Brexit and the implications for UK business, and are working with the industry and Government to seek resolution over issues critical to the UK industry and economy, health services, and above all, patients in the UK.


Steve Hopkinson: There are interesting developments in changing the way healthcare is delivered through digital enablement and supported self-management that could really go mainstream in 2018. Patient access to online educational resources, which encourage greater knowledge of an individual’s condition and support their self-management, is a vital role industry can play. AbbVie already does this, providing one-on-one guidance, and face-to-face or telephone support. This ensures patients have the confidence to use medicines correctly and get the best possible outcome. 2018 will see us make further improvements to these programmes, which we believe offer best value for the health service and patients.

Jess Fine: The NHS has made digital excellence the cornerstone of its future model and we must embrace this if we are to have a healthcare system fit for the 21st Century. As a company, we are deeply committed to scientific discovery, working in partnership with the healthcare system and scaling innovation through a number of NHS partnership projects, such as Velocity Health and the Test Beds programme.

Carlos Maco: The movement towards personalised medicines is picking up pace as we head into 2018. New digital technologies are amplifying this shift from large batch manufacturing to smaller personalised batches. By using newly accessible data, companies can connect genetic information with real world data, such as lifestyle and wellness metrics, to provide a combined drugs solution. The effect on industry is a shift in its manufacturing focus, as some move away from a stock-based model to one that is made-to-order based.


Chris Molloy: Times of change and challenge yield great invention, and bring otherwise fragmented organisations together to gang up on the problem. The UK is already a leader in clinical cohort experimentation and discovered 25% of the world’s top 100 medicines. By structuring investment partnerships focussed on innovative opportunities, the UK has immense potential to be harnessed through translational centres like the Medicines Discovery Catapult to create national pipelines of new ideas that move into the clinic. We can harness connected data at scale and create new public-private partnerships that will support new drug R&D centred around the many disease charities who are ready to translate clear patient need into new medicines and crystallise innovative new sources of funding. I believe that the UK is ready to pull together in response to Brexit, embracing the opportunities that lie ahead.

Samir Paul: I genuinely believe there are two things that will become more critical in 2018. Our ability to engage with patients more, thereby increasing the chance of commercial success and, secondly, how we use digital technology, including data and analytics, to get closer to the patient, treatment needs and creating appropriate healthcare solutions.


Jane Devenish: The role and scope of pharmacists is rapidly changing, and the landscape for community pharmacy will continue to change in 2018. Our pharmacists play a crucial role in ensuring that people have the medicines and information they need to look after their  health. We are working in collaboration with the wider health service and other pharmacy multiples to ensure this moves forward in 2018.


Read this cover story in Pf Magazine here