MPs highlight value of research-based pharma

by Admin 5. March 2012 11:49

 The medical and economic importance of the UK research-based pharmaceutical industry has been highlighted by a new parliamentary report.

Calling the industry “impressive”, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts (pictured) reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to supporting its growth.

ABPI Board member Nick Burgin called the Government policies to support joint working and the life science infrastructure “a positive step forward”.

The articles in the current issue of Science in Parliament (SIP), the journal of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, underlined the Government’s life science strategy and NHS innovation documents published in December.

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Committee, noted that the UK pharma industry consistently invests more in R&D than any other sector. However, he said, “growing competition from emerging economies is raising the bar ever higher and the UK needs to run faster just to stay still.”

The role of government in fostering and rewarding medical innovation was the theme of Willetts’ article, which drew attention to the changing needs of pharma R&D: in place of high-budget company research, he said, “a new model of collaboration, outsourcing of research and early clinical trials on patients is emerging.”

Willetts listed the Government measures announced in December to support medical innovation, including: the creation of new Biomedical Research Centres, a new national NIHR Bioresource, a new Cell Therapy Technology Innovation Centre and new Academic Health Science Networks; research into stratified medicine and disease mechanisms; a “catalyst fund” to support product development; and making NHS data available for “approved research”.

Nick Burgin said the joint working to produce the two December documents, in which the ABPI was strongly involved, “provides a successful blueprint and pathway for how the industry and the NHS can work together.”

He drew attention to the risk of the UK becoming “a mid- or late-tier launch market” for medical innovations, but concluded: “The launch of policy directed at placing innovation at the heart of the NHS represents a positive step forward for the NHS itself and also for industry and patients.”

At the parliamentary launch of the new issue of SIP, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said the research model of UK pharma is changing – from one of in-house discovery to one of collaborative working – but it is not declining: “This industry is not packing up and leaving the UK.”

UK life science strategy is great news for medtech

by Admin 22. December 2011 15:38

 The new UK life science strategy and NHS innovation review, launched by the Government this month, has been praised by the UK medical technologies sector for its promotion of innovative research and the rapid uptake of high-value technologies.

The NHS Chief Executive’s review Innovation, Health and Wealth: accelerating adoption and diffusion in the NHS outlines a number of measures the NHS will take to work in partnership with industry in order to implement effective new medical technologies throughout the NHS.

The document draws in attention, in particular, to the potential of telehealth systems to improve the management of long-term conditions, reducing hospital admissions and GP visits and so reducing the overall cost of care while improving patient outcomes, as demonstrated by the recent Whole Systems Demonstrator project.

Other areas of medical technology highlighted by the innovation document include the use of fluid monitoring in acute care and the use of assistive technologies, including wheelchairs, to improve the access of disabled people to working and other everyday environments.

Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive of the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), the leading UK medtech trade association, said: “I welcome the Government’s focus on the life science industry. As highlighted by the Prime Minister our sector is part of ‘the virtuous circle of health, wealth and well-being’ – a real growth area for the Government as well as having the potential to make a difference to patients through the innovation we bring.

“Measures such as reform to the tariff system, enforcement of NICE guidance and the development of a procurement strategy, if done properly, could make a real difference to the medical technology sector.

“ABHI will work with the Government to make sure that the measures outlined in the Innovation Review are translated into firm actions. The measures could make a real difference to the SMEs in our sector and it is crucial that we are able to take advantage of them and continue to grow.”

Doris-Ann Williams MBE, Chief Executive of the British in Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) and a member of the Innovation Review’s External Advisory Group, commented that the Government’s announcements “represent a crucial opportunity for the life sciences sector” – and that the life science strategy and the innovation review in combination “will reinforce a genuine partnership between industry, the NHS and government.”

“To accelerate the use of innovative technologies to benefit patients and the NHS, tangible and realistic proposals were needed,” she added. “The NICE Implementation Collaborative, an innovation scorecard and a commitment to examine reimbursement mechanisms for diagnostics will all help the IVD industry to do what it needs to do to turn the vision into reality.”

Tony Davis, Chair of health technology business support organisation Medilink UK, noted that the new life science strategy “sets the stage for telehealth and telecare technologies to be made available to every person with a long-term condition or in need of care in the UK, helping them manage their health while maintaining their independence.”

“Medilink UK has been working with industry, other trade associations and the Department of Health to accelerate the roll-out of telehealth and telecare services in the NHS and social care, which will enhance the lives of three million people over the next five years,” he concluded.


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