The government elected at the U.K.’s forthcoming General Election on June 8th must be more ambitious about setting out a clear investment strategy both to secure the nation’s position as a global hub for life science research and to improve patient services and access to new medicines, according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which launched its election manifesto, “Securing the Opportunity for UK Life Sciences by 2022,” at its Annual Conference today.

This governmental strategy will need to include National Health Service (NHS) reform to reduce bureaucracy and speed the adoption of new drugs, the association claims, as well as increased investment and incentives to boost the U.K.’s position as a global hub for life science research and innovation, and close cooperation with the EU to ensure seamless trade and drug regulation procedures.

Lisa Anson, who took over as APBI president today, and is also country president for AstraZeneca U.K., stated that the U.K. runs the risk of becoming “a desert for healthcare innovation,” and stressed that the new government should commit to bringing the level of healthcare investment in line with the G7 average of 11.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) spending. ABPI maintains that U.K. investment in healthcare is currently the sixth lowest out of the G7 nations, at 9.9% GDP spending, with only Italy investing less.

Securing the U.K.’s position as a leading hub for life science research and global investment will also mean plowing 3% of GDP spending into R&D by 2022, providing incentives to attract scientists to the U.K. and facilitate global collaboration, and investing in advanced manufacturing to boost the nation’s competitiveness, the manifesto states. “This should include the creation of collaborative centers of excellence for medicines manufacturing.”

ABPI is, in addition, calling for NHS reform to facilitate early adoption of new medicines and the establishment of a new system for drug assessment, led by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This should feed in to a voluntary Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) with the pharmaceutical industry to improve and speed patient access to cost-effective new drugs. The U.K. currently has a relatively poor record of patient access to medicines, the manifesto states. “Government analysis shows that, on average, for every 100 patients in comparable countries who get access to a new medicine in their first year of launch just 18 patients in the U.K. receive the same.”

The new government will also will need to cooperate with the EU on drug regulation so that it can stay aligned with the EU regulatory framework post-Brexit and ensure that free trade of medicines and pharmaceutical supplies across borders remains “frictionless.” “As we leave the EU, the new government's agenda will need to set out the U.K.'s stall in the global marketplace,” stated Mike Thomspon, ABPI chief executive. “This manifesto lays out the pharmaceutical industry’s vision for an NHS that embraces innovation as the route to greater productivity and sustainability, as well as healthier lives for us all. Alongside targeted investments in our science base and making the right choices in Brexit negotiations, we can cement the U.K.'s position as a leading global hub for our industry.”

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