ABPI conference demands action to save UK pharma

 A conference hosted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has called for urgent action to strengthen drug R&D in the UK.

A gathering of life science industry representatives, academic researchers and policy makers discussed the progress, after one year, of the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences.

One specific demand raised by the ABPI and the Bioindustry Association (BIA) was an Early Access to Medicines scheme for the NHS.

More broadly, the two associations called for stronger partnerships between industry, healthcare and the academic sector, shifting from ‘transactional’ relationships to a shared understanding of the role of R&D.

Going beyond its former demands for improved uptake of new drugs, the ABPI emphasised the symbiosis of the NHS with UK-based medical research.

Speakers at the conference included Health Minister Lord Howe and Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

Stephen Whitehead (pictured), ABPI Chief Executive, said: “Our challenge is to create a world-class environment for life sciences research. This will only be possible by working in partnership with all healthcare stakeholders in the R&D ecosystem and embedding a culture in the NHS which supports medical research.

“There is a direct link between uptake and access to innovative medicines in the UK and industrial investment in research and development. If global pharmaceutical companies cannot compare the effectiveness of their new medicine against the best product on the market because it is not available in the UK, they will simply move these studies to other countries.”

According to Steve Bates, BIA Chief Executive Officer, “More needs to be done to enable companies to grow in the UK. That why the BIA is calling for the introduction of a funded and workable Early Access Scheme.”