Life of ABPI: Insight into the organisation

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The organisation’s Chief of Staff Sam Ogden provides her intriguing outlook, while three industry experts offer fascinating outside perspectives.


Sam Ogden is the Chief of Staff at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

 The ABPI is a full service trade association supporting companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry. We’re proud to say that we are the only trade association, recognised by government, for negotiating the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry.

We’re also privileged to manage self-regulation – via operation of the ABPI code – and represent the industry, both in England and across the devolved countries. Collectively, our members supply more than 80% of all branded medicines used by the NHS. ABPI membership continues to grow with new companies signing up and consolidating our position as the single voice for industry.

This is particularly important for the UK pharmaceutical industry at this critical and exciting time. There are more than 7,000 new medicines in the global development pipeline. This is an inspiring wave of medical innovation, and our role is to provide a wide scope of services to help our members get medicines from lab bench to bedside.

We work with members and patient groups to offer insight into the research and manufacturing process, while looking to improve patient access through ongoing dialogue with the Department of Health and NICE. More than ever, we are striving for collaborative relationships with colleagues across the NHS.

The most immediate challenge we face is ensuring our country is a prominent player in global industry, as the UK works to leave the EU. Building on our existing strengths is not only important for the economy and the future of a £60bn highly-skilled sector, but also vital for UK patients and the NHS. Britain has long been a thriving centre for the life sciences, and the medicines developed here profoundly change the lives of patients in their millions across the globe.

We’re already seeing how care delivery is changing for the better. Treatments are becoming more personalised to individuals, with patients at the heart of how medicines are developed. As we use and understand ‘big data’ more effectively, and improve our knowledge of genetics and rare disease, our members are pioneering the delivery of advanced therapies – from cancer immunotherapies, to new ways of tackling dementia, Alzheimer’s and HIV. The future of our industry is exciting.

As an association, we must now adapt and work even more closely with the NHS and patients, as our medicines become more targeted to smaller groups of people. We must be more open with the public, through engagement with the media and organisations, to share this incredible journey towards new treatments and cures.


Emma Morton is Senior Media Strategist at Ruder Finn and formerly The Sun’s Health and Science Editor

“What’s the main role of the ABPI?” a new Ruder Finn employee recently asked before their ‘Code of Practice’ training session.

Good question. While its commercial arm focuses on communicating the true value of medicines to the Government and NICE, the rest of the organisation works hard to build bridges between the majority of UK pharma companies, the NHS, professional healthcare organisations, patient groups, research institutions, the press and broadcasters.

It could, however, do more to encourage innovation and remove bureaucratic obstacles. And it should not be afraid to urge the Government to increase investment in the vital healthcare sector.

It could also step in more frequently to represent its industry. Many firms are reluctant to offer a spokesperson, and media opportunities to hear an industry perspective are lost. The ABPI can close this gap, as the voice of reason on access to medicines and NHS treatment ‘rationing’.

Recently our Prime Minister vowed to accelerate the Brexit process and the Leave campaign promised millions more for the NHS and improved access to treatments. Hopes are high and the ABPI can now focus on ‘bringing medicines to life’.


Deborah Evans is a pharmacist and Managing Director at Pharmacy Complete

The ABPI has an important role, ensuring that a vibrant and productive research-based science industry is supported in the UK, and at the heart of policy and decision-making.

In the current environment – where demand for resources has never been higher – the ABPI also needs to work closely with the NHS to ensure that the Health Service, and tax payers, get best value from the medicines it procures.

I see the ABPI as having a vital role in negotiating what a productive and appropriate engagement looks like between the NHS and industry, establishing a framework for
individual companies to engage.

By representing its members, the ABPI is able to discuss collaboration, without having specific medicine interests. This can avoid potential conflicts of interest and ensure all parties are able to develop together.

Ultimately, the ABPI sets the standards for the industry through self-regulation. The Code of Practice is critical in protecting the reputation of the industry and the healthcare professionals it engages with. It is essential that member organisations, non-members and the NHS exhibit impeccable behaviours when engaging with each other, to avoid external regulation and reputational damage to any party.


Ondine Whittington is Managing Director at Virgo Health

 From a communications perspective, the ABPI is seen as the industry gatekeeper; the organisation responsible for promoting the work of the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, it showcases the impact it has on people’s lives, while instilling trust and protecting the industry’s reputation.

Providing one voice on behalf of its members, it should always work in collaboration with them to ensure it reflects the current thinking and opinions of the wider industry. There should also be support for industry-wide examples of reform, such as data transparency and transfer of value initiatives.

The ABPI has a key role in championing the UK as a science and healthcare powerhouse – proudly and proactively communicating the work carried out by industry.

More than ever, it will be key in representing the industry and working with the Government and relevant EU institutions during Brexit negotiations, ensuring the UK continues to be seen as a pharmaceutical centre of excellence. This will be important to industry employees, while protecting the interests of patients accessing medicines.