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ABPI Sets Out Its Stall

Any election gives political parties – as well as stakeholders  in particular policy areas – a chance to outline their views and positions on the next five to ten years of government. And with the UK at a critical juncture, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has decided to set out its stall on the future of the National Health Service (NHS), the future of pharmaceutical research, development, manufacturing and investment in Britain, and the impact of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union (1). We caught up with a spokesperson for the ABPI to find out more.

How important is the UK pharma industry to the UK economy?

The pharmaceutical sector is a major contributor to employment, taxes and GDP – providing high skilled and highly productive jobs across the UK. The UK Life Sciences sector contributed £30.4 billion to the economy in 2015, providing an estimated tax contribution of £8.6 billion to the exchequer. Each life sciences job supports 2.5 jobs elsewhere in the UK economy, meaning the sector supports a total of 482,000 jobs. The average productivity of UK Life Sciences employees, expressed as Gross Value Added (GVA), is £104,000 compared to the UK GVA average of £49,000. And jobs are distributed throughout the UK, with every region containing a UK head office of a life sciences firm.

How do you think the UK can improve patient access to medicines?

Government analysis shows that, on average, for every 100 patients in comparable countries who get access to a new medicine in its first year of launch, just 18 patients in the UK receive the same. Reforming the NHS to embrace new treatments is crucial to providing quality care to more patients within a sustainable budget.

In an ideal world, how would you like to see the NHS and the pharma industry better collaborate?

As we look at the future of medicine and new ways of treating cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases and chronic conditions, we want to work more closely with the NHS to revolutionize the way healthcare is provided and improve patient outcomes a result. One example is how we collaborate on “real world evidence” and healthcare data collection. Building on the success of a long-term NHS/pharmaceutical company partnership that tracked the treatment of asthma in Salford (known as the Salford Lung Study), the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has recently kicked-off a diabetes program with a number of pharmaceutical companies. This work tracks, monitors and reviews care in “real world” settings. More partnerships like this will give us the best chance of creating the most appropriate and cost-effective medicines for patients throughout the UK.

What are the main priorities for UK pharma companies as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU?

The negotiations that determine Britain’s new relationship with the EU will be critical to how medicines are delivered to patients in the UK and in Europe, and the future success of the pharmaceutical industry. For a sector that plans a decade ahead, it is critical to secure a new relationship with the EU that prioritizes patients and public health. This means securing co-operation with the EU on the regulation of medicines, securing the ability to freely trade and move medicines and pharmaceutical supplies across borders, securing access to the best talent, and securing predictable access to funding and collaboration for scientific research.

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  1. ABPI, “ABPI Manifesto 2017: Securing the Opportunity for UK Life Sciences by 2022”, (2017) Available at: Last accessed May 11, 2017.
About the Author
James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.


From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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