This week, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) launched their General Election 2020 Manifesto for Medicine, outlining their members’ priorities for the next Parliament. It calls on political parties to ensure their policies support science and research and help maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in medicines and vaccines development.
The manifesto highlights the importance of improve patient access. On research and development, the manifesto recommends a new subscription model for antibiotics and better collaboration between the NHS and life sciences sector. The document is clear that the baseline cost-effectiveness thresholds currently making the UK the best place in the world for patients to access cutting-edge medicines and vaccines. Firstly, it asks that money paid to the NHS by pharmaceutical companies through the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS) be used by NICE, as well as the organisation itself should evolve to increase the uptake of new medicines in the UK. This point has previously been raised in relation to NICE by stakeholders other than the ABPI. Lastly, the manifesto asks for the implementation of a new Vaccines Strategy, this is likely in response to the increasing reports on infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine hesitancy.
On Brexit, the ABPI has already been clear in requesting a Withdrawal Agreement that will prevent any disruption to the supply of medicines to the UK. The manifesto re-iterates this and calls for cooperation with the EU on the regulation of medicines going forward, including collaboration on Horizon Europe. A new research and innovation programme currently in development.
The importance of R&D to build a thriving environment for medicine discovery is also a cornerstone of this manifesto. Unsurprisingly, the ABPI asks for the next Government to commit to boosting R&D investment with industry and increasing incentives to encourage further investment from abroad. Looking more widely at the health economy, the manifesto asks for the creation of a new Life Sciences Skills Fund to address skill gaps in areas such as genomics, immunology and bioinformatics.
The manifesto also asks for the next government to further commit to The 5-year National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The Plan sets targets to reduce the use of antibiotics in humans and to trial a new way of valuing and paying for antibiotics which encourages the appropriate use of these medicines. AMR is a rapidly becoming a global health concern, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and others taking opportunities to highlight the dangers posed. As supporters of the plan, the ABPI asks for leadership and investment in tackling AMR.
The 2020 Manifesto for Medicine provides a broad outline for the pharmaceutical industry’s key concerns for the incoming government. It will be interesting to see how many of these are identified as health priority areas in the party manifestos due to be published next week.