Cameron stresses value of NHS for life science industry

 The NHS is a key “national asset” for life science innovation, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Speaking at the inaugural Global Health Policy Summit in London, Cameron emphasised the relationship between NHS reform and the Government’s innovation strategy.

Developments such as value-based pricing and making anonymised NHS patient data available to researchers would “bring breakthroughs in long-neglected areas like dementia”, he claimed.

Cameron stated that his goal in healthcare was to make the NHS “diverse, flexible and tailored to individual needs”, thereby adapting it as a research base to the challenge of developing personalised medicine.

Global healthcare was undergoing a “fundamental shift” towards “individually-tailored” medicine, he said, driven by the growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases and the progress of genetic research.

To achieve that required “open innovation, more collaboration with universities and start-ups, and a greater emphasis on data analytics and genomics”.

The unique patient data resources and purchasing power of the NHS made it a natural partner for life science innovation, he argued.

To develop that relationship, the Government had given the NHS a legal duty to promote research, was planning to introduce value-based pricing, and was consulting on an early access scheme for new medicines.

Crucially, it planned to change the NHS constitution so that patient data could be used for research unless the patient opted out.

Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, commented that the trade association valued the Government’s “continued support for industry” and agreed that the NHS offered the life science industry a “great opportunity”.

However, he said, “we are not convinced that value-based pricing will encourage innovation or reward the most effective medicines,” as it would not reflect the incremental nature of innovation or reward the industry enough for its R&D.