ABPI Innovation Reception, 2011

Kate Pain reports on the ABPI November conference that focused on innovation in healthcare

Published: 23 Nov 2011

by Kate Pain

A quick look

Kate Pain summarises key themes from the ABPI Innovation Reception held on 3 November, 2011 at the Royal Society, London. 

The two central themes of this year’s ABPI conference were innovation and collaboration: with both being equally dependent on the other.  Partnerships between pharma, the NHS and patients will create a ‘win, win, win’ situation said Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the ABPI.

Whitehead, who opened the meeting, stressed that innovation is fundamental to pharma’s ongoing success and to balancing the economics of the healthcare economy. Indeed, when questioned whether innovation was affordable in cash-strapped times, he replied, “it’s expensive but it’s affordable because the alternatives are not.”

Most importantly, he said, healthcare innovation is vital to patient healthcare because without it pharma will not fulfil future unmet clinical need: “The UK lags behind in terms of patient access and uptake and this needs to change. If we are to benefit from better health outcomes then UK patients need to be given faster access to treatments.”

He and fellow speakers, Mike Farrar, Martin Gibson and Simon Jose, among others, were not suggesting that there is a dearth of innovation in the UK. Rather, the UK was applauded for being fertile ground for R&D, evidenced not least by the 800 clinical trials currently in the system. The country has a strong science base and a keen want to research, said Martin Gore.

However there was a call for more joined-up thinking. Both in the way innovation is perceived and the way pharma collaborates to achieve it.

When quizzed at the conference, 81 per cent of delegates felt that different interpretations of ‘innovation’ would cause future problems within the industry. Whitehead argued that innovation reaches beyond R&D and should continue when a product enters the market: “Innovation is iterative and continues throughout the patient pathway,” he said.

To facilitate this, relationships between pharma, the NHS and patients need to be improved to create a collaborative environment. “We have moved beyond purchaser and seller transactional relationships; the next era will be based on partnerships and collaboration,” Whitehead said. “Innovation unites us: how we price and value innovation; our need to embrace innovation; and how we can improve our work – with all our stakeholders, patient groups and the NHS.”

Stephen Whitehead’s speech can be read in its entirety via the ABPI website.

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