Good afternoon, ladies and Gentlemen. I’m excited and energised to be here with you today and to be closing a fantastic day of conference with you and a key partner for us, Simon Stevens.
As some of you may already know, It is with mixed emotion that I announced this week that I will be stepping down as ABPI President due to leaving AstraZeneca and moving to a new role. I have been genuinely honoured to have the role as President and to try and shape an exciting future for our sector despite the challenges we face. Rest assured that you have my full commitment to continue this with passion whilst I still hold this role, and more broadly, as a leader within our industry going forward.
Together in this room, we represent a unique industry that develops world changing innovation. An industry that for over 70 years has revolutionised care of our nations’ patients, citizens and communities. Our industry now stands poised to do it all again.
We are pioneers of science who make innovation happen.
Haemophilia B patients can now benefit from targeted treatment on the gene which aids blood clotting. Advances in understanding how cells monitor and repair damaged DNA enables us to develop game-changing treatments for cancer. Progress in immuno-oncology sees patients own immune cells used to attack cancer cells, and stem cell therapy is treating rare sight conditions.
We see Artificial Intelligence and synthetic biology used for treating malaria, HIV and hepatitis. Gene-editing technology is happening in our labs right now, identifying new disease targets and accelerating the discovery of novel treatments.
I hope you are all extremely proud of what we have achieved and excited by what can achieve as we look ahead. Just think – 70 weeks, 70 months, never mind 70 years - what we’ve heard at conference today, could well save and improve hundreds and thousands of lives and livelihoods.
As Franklin D Roosevelt said, “The only limit to our realisation of tomorrow, will be our doubts of today.”
This time last year I set three priorities - enhancing the reputation of our industry, ensuring a UK environment that enables the Life Sciences to thrive and improving access to innovative medicines for NHS patients.
They still stand, and today, as we are in such good company, I will describe them through the lens of partnership – and how we ensure improved patient outcomes and support the NHS by building together a thriving future for the UK life sciences eco-system. This type of partnership requires trust.
First, let’s talk about trust. How often do you stop and think why it is so fundamental to our ability to care for patients, and our license to operate?
Trust is intrinsic to our ability to succeed across the range of our endeavours. It means Trust in the medicines we research and develop. Trust as a partner with the NHS, with Government.
Most importantly it means we are trusted by patients - that patients are getting the best advice from the medics that we train to use our medicines and that the relationships we have with healthcare professionals are appropriate and transparent.
That’s why our reputation is the cornerstone of my presidency. Our focus is to increase awareness of our commitment to doing the right thing.
For example, the Prescriptions Medicines Code of Practice Authority plays a key role as a self regulator. Rightly, our industry and our medicines are highly regulated, but not everyone realizes that every aspect of our interactions are regulated – our code of conduct is enshrined in the ABPI Code of Practice, now in its 60th year.
We have been too modest - We should champion and celebrate the power of self-regulation as a way of demonstrating our commitment and building trust. We know colleagues within the NHS including NHS England Chair, Sir Malcolm Grant, found our Code helpful when finalising the current Conflicts of Interest guidance for all NHS staff.
‘Transparency’ is often used as a proxy for trust in the media - and it is important, but it is only the first step towards trust. Via Disclosure UK, we shine a light on the crucial relationships with doctors, nurses and pharmacists - without whom we can’t develop new medicines or ensure they are safely used.
2018 sees industry – and our partners within the NHS - address the twin opportunities of delivering greater transparency around our relations with healthcare professionals at the same time as working through the implications of new data protection legislation and GDPR.
Our ambition is clear, and I know, Simon, you share this objective - we want 100% consent rates across healthcare professionals.
Neither of us can do it alone, and it’s going to need a level of trust and partnership between our respective organisations that we haven’t seen before if we are going to achieve it.
Our industry has literally hundreds of partnerships with the NHS. They are so diverse they cover the entirety of the life sciences ecosystem, from early research, through clinical trials, and all the way through to joint-working - to understand how medicines and health systems operate in the real world. They bring improvements to practice, patient outcomes, clinical pathways and have helped ensure the UK has been able to adopt innovation before other countries.
Last year I said that our industry was at a critical juncture. It still is- and we are going to need a step change in partnership working to thrive.
As Brexit continues to dominate headlines and our plans, ABPI has made the case to ensure government understands why we need a Brexit deal that prioritizes patient safety and secures certainty of supply of medicines for the benefit of patients, NHS and our vibrant life sciences eco systems.
It is reassuring that our views are echoed by the Prime Minister and our guest speaker tonight, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. But ‘it’s not agreed until it’s all agreed’, and every extra moment of uncertainty means decisions that were straight forward two years ago, are being deferred, as eyes start to look for other solutions. Right now many companies are actively working on duplicate systems and contingencies because of the lack of certainty about medicines regulation in less than 12 months time.
Over time, companies have chosen to research and develop new medicines in the UK because of its strong science base, world-beating universities and unique, National Health Service. As a result, people in the UK have benefited from incredible scientific progression, health and prosperity.
Like many great institutions, our life sciences ecosystem is sometimes taken for granted – people believe it is cast in stone.
It isn’t. This intricate, fragile, ecosystem is at risk. There are other countries who have emulated the UK’s earlier successes, and they are not standing still.
I believe that as we leave the EU, we are going to need to deliver a level of partnership with the NHS like never before. If we are to unleash the transformative potential of our health data, bring crucial trials and development to these shores, and ensure a future focused NHS can reap the benefits of global standards of care, we are going to have to do this united together.
It’s quite easy to stand here on a podium and list off the usual stats that illustrate our crucial role:- 66,000 British jobs rely on our industry, Companies spend £4.2 billion on R&D in the UK and contribute £30 Billion to UK GDP. The numbers are important, but you have heard them before. I don’t think they always land. So think about it this way:
This powerhouse industry of singular and significant strategic importance to our country must not be allowed to wither; the years of expertise, investment and achievement, the years of cutting-edge, world-beating care that has delivered so much for patients can’t be allowed to ebb or slowly seep away.
We have a blueprint to secure an environment that ensures that UK life sciences can thrive and flourish. We must implement the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in full. And fast. To truly move forward we also need to manage the core tension between investing in life sciences and being a low cost procurer of medicines. Medicines pricing and UK uptake of medicines need clear guardrails that we can all trust.
That is why the PPRS needs to solve not only for a fair deal to the NHS, but deliver a rock-solid basis on which to deliver the next great age of medicine here in the UK, for the UK at this critical juncture.
Like any ecosystem, in life sciences all elements need to function effectively. Improving patient access to medicines to the levels enjoyed by most EU countries is one area where we need to focus. UK patients remain five times less likely to get a new medicine than in France or Germany. Government should not be complacent: Our future success is dependent on action now. Send the right signal to Global Boardrooms that the UK is serious about maintaining our status as a world leader in pharmaceuticals.
We are beginning to see some changes. Simon, it was on this very stage one year ago that the ABPI stuck out its neck and called for increased funding for the NHS - on the front page of The Times - because we believe it was the right thing to do….and that was before it was trendy! I would just like to acknowledge what enormous challenges you face and to thank you personally for accepting my invitation to speak here. I believe it is critical that we understand the NHS agenda fully as we want you to see us as part of the solution and not just as a cost. We wish you success over the coming months with the enormous challenges you face.
Let’s stick with budgets: Not many people outside this room seem to know that 82 per cent of branded medicines made by our industry and used in the NHS, are covered by the voluntary pharmaceutical pricing regulation scheme.
The fact is that 149 companies will have paid back nearly £2.8 billion to the UK Government – That’s a million every day since the scheme started in 1st January in 2014. The medicines bill is arguably the most under control spend in the NHS, perhaps even beyond the NHS. Let me ask you – who knows that?
Here is the real sting in the tail – not only do people not realise the branded medicines bill is well controlled, they don’t know that over this period, in real terms, branded medicines spend has declined by 0.4% - whilst spend on the NHS has grown.
Just stop and think. Throughout today we have described an industry that is a jewel in the crown of UK plc. We have talked about a life sciences ecosystem that has been a driver for improved patient outcomes, a proven driver of prosperity, and a key contributor to a successful NHS. We have described the increasing need across our society for care and support. And with all this investment in medicines is shrinking. I believe we are not investing enough in the future of medicines, we are not investing enough in improved outcomes,
Looking to the future, imagine what we could achieve if the NHS was capable of adopting, at scale, the scientific breakthroughs, not just in our industry but in health tech and diagnostics. We’ve heard throughout the day some of the amazing work being carried out by our members in partnership with the NHS and others.
Will NHS patients benefit, or will these new medicines be aspirational for our health service?
How can we partner with the NHS to adopt these treatments at pace over the next decade?
What creative solutions – including financial - can we come up with to make sure that the medicines you are researching and developing are bought and used to improve and save lives?
Over the years our industry and the NHS have agreed – and disagreed - on many things, but I believe that we have the capability to work effectively together to manage the inherent tensions and ensure that patients are the ones that benefit.
As we stand at a critical juncture we need to deliver our priorities – reputation, a thriving scientific ecosystem and patient access to innovative medicines – and to deliver them with the NHS. I ask each of us to build on our natural partnership - industry and the NHS - and deliver real change and benefits for patients in the UK in the decades to come.
Together in this room, we represent a unique industry that develops world changing innovation. An industry that for over 70 years has revolutionised care of our nations’ patients, citizens and communities.
Lisa Anson, President of the ABPI
The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. We represent companies who supply more than 80 per cent of all branded medicines used by the NHS and who are researching and developing the majority of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome disease.
Globally our industry is researching and developing more than 7,000 new medicines.
The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.