“I fear for the future of UK medical research”, says head of the UK pharmaceutical industry

The Government is too focused on encouraging ‘breakthrough drugs’ at the expense of significant gains for patients from incremental innovation in medicines, warned Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI. Stephen Whitehead warned that this approach threatens the future of pharmaceutical medical research in the UK.

The intervention comes shortly before the next round of medicine pricing negotiations, and is the most outspoken assessment of the risks facing the industry Whitehead has made since he started as Chief Executive of the ABPI one year ago.

Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, comments:

“The pricing negotiations will decide the future of pharmaceutical research in the UK. If we minimise the reward for innovation in the UK, then our manufacturers will go abroad. Our industry, our economy, and our healthcare system will suffer – UK patients will suffer.

“The Government wants to target resources at big breakthroughs, but the science shows us that developments in medicine are made in small steps.

“We have to make sure that we recognise and reward the investment that goes into creating innovative new medicines. Manufacturers take a £1bn gamble when they decide to create a medicine in the UK, and they won’t take that plunge if there is no reward for success. The UK is a global leader in medical research and development, but we have to do all we can to prolong and build on this success; we have to ensure that the huge risks discoverers and developers take are rewarded.”

To highlight the different types of medical innovation, the ABPI recently commissioned a report called The Many Faces of Innovation. The report, which is published on the day of Whitehead’s one year anniversary as Chief Executive, examines the different types of innovation, and the importance of iterative medical developments. The report is available here: The Many Faces of Innovation.

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