Collaboration Best for Stretched NHS Budgets

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) head has noted that he understands that the UK National Health Service must save money, but wishes to create new partnerships to help this happen.

Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the ABPI, writing in the Guardian’s professional network, commented that “within the changing NHS landscape, it is essential efficiency measures are made and budgets are stretched further, while providing better treatments and quality of care to patients.”

However, Whitehead added that these challenges can only be overcome within a structure that is “built on real partnerships between the NHS, academia, the voluntary sector, the industry and patients.”

Partnership is a key topic for the chief executive, and he has been working hard to ensure that the NHS views the pharmaceutical industry as an essential part of the health system, as opposed to just a provider of medication.

The ABPI has recently built up strong links with the NHS Confederation, which represents managers in the healthcare service, and has had numerous combined conferences to demonstrate the advantages of working together.

Whitehead commented that “partnership working can also now be seen between the government and our industry as we try and improve the UK’s performance in getting the newest medicines to patients.”  He noted that traditionally, the UK has “lagged behind other European counterparts.”

As a result of the joint-working between the ABPI and the UK government, the UK now has the ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth’ review, which will see the Department of Health and pharmaceutical organisations collaborating to improve access to drugs.

The ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth’ review, which obliges local formularies to carry NICE-approved medicines, and will allow certain medication to enter the market without the need for later-stage testing, was penned by the DH and Whitehead’s successor, Richard Barker.

Whitehead is also aiming to get the new image of the pharmaceutical industry into the public eye.  This is particularly vital now as the ABPI has began discussions with the government surrounding value-based pricing proposals, which could substitute the current PPRS pricing scheme in 2014.


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