Industry big guns threaten to turn backs on Britain

John Pinching 02 July 2017


Fed up pharma 

Relentless rationing of treatments throughout the NHS and a limited health spend across Britain is causing pharma to consider taking their business elsewhere.

Industry has made it clear that if the NHS does not receive an extra £20 billion a year, companies will consider moving their research and development operations to other regions, while launching their new products in countries with ‘top tier’ healthcare systems.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said that patients and companies will suffer as a result, and new president, Lisa Anson, stated that the financial squeeze on the NHS threatened the whole of Britain’s £30 billion life sciences sector, adding that if politicians fail to prioritise health expenditure, “Britain risks becoming a desert for healthcare innovation”.

The ABPI, which represents several pharma giants, such as Pfizer and Novartis, added that British health spending should match the G7 average of 11.3% of its GDP, rather than its current 9.9%.

Meanwhile, some companies may extend their boycott to include clinical trials in the UK, as new treatments are tested against the most highly-rated existing therapies, which may not be available in Britain.

Britain has been a pioneer for medical research and innovation in the last three centuries, leading a number of significant Tory MPs to dismiss the threats as ‘bluffing’.


Pf View: Perhaps the pharma industry has earned the right to indulge in some political posturing, especially given the positive impact it has made on the British economy over many decades and, indeed, the rough ride it has endured in the media.


Andrew Davis, Chairman, NeoNavitas

It’s not difficult to imagine that pharmaceutical companies would consider moving their R&D to other countries, especially as we have a precedent with Pfizer. The situation is probably worse than reported, as it is difficult to put a number on the value that pharma returns to the NHS, through patient access schemes, discounts, PPRS and rebates. Truly innovative products do, however, seem to be well-funded.


Tim Warren, Managing Director, Triducive

Innovation is a key driver for the NHS and any innovation needs investment to achieve longer-term efficiency savings – which are much-needed by the NHS. Health expenditure has to be increased to bring us in line with the G7 average of 11.3%. Pharma companies pursuing innovation in R&D must balance commercial opportunity – without commercial success, their R&D budgets become threatened. It is a great shame that taking investment outside the UK is being considered, but we live in strange times, where norms are being challenged. We cannot underestimate or dismiss this reality facing global industries.





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