ABPI Launches General Election 2020 Manifesto For Medicine

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has launched its General Election 2020 Manifesto for Medicine, calling on the next government to ensure that it builds on the UK’s life science industry to help improve the health of NHS patients.

Pharmaceutical companies all over the UK employ 63,000 people collectively, investing £4.3 billion in research and development (R&D) nationwide.

The industry believes that apprenticeships have a huge part to play in meeting its skills shortages, with both individual programmes and the Apprenticeship Levy supported by the sector thanks to UK employers paying bills above £3 million to help fund training opportunities for apprentices.

However, the ABPI also believes that the system can be made more effective and one of the key proposals in its Manifesto is to set up a new Life Sciences Skills Fund using unspent funds from the Levy.

There are currently skills gaps in immunology, genomics, clinical pharmacology and bioinformatics. The money in this new fund would be channelled into the education, training and upskilling of those in these critical priority areas, through the establishing of new academic courses for necessary skills.

Another policy focus will be to ensure that patients are afforded access to the latest medication much faster, helping to create an NHS that will be fit for the future. This means looking to innovative technology for an answer, making sure that all patients around the country can access world-class standards of care and disease prevention.

This year, an agreement was signed between pharmaceutical companies and the government to cap medicines spending growth at two per cent. Anything over this will then be paid back in rebates to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Chief executive of the ABPI Mike Thompson said: “The next government will shape one of our country’s most valuable assets: an incredible pharmaceutical industry that employs tens of thousands and invests billions in research.

“We don’t just want NHS patients to get the latest breakthroughs; we want the UK to continue being home to the science that makes them possible, with all the global investment that comes with it.”

The Manifesto also sets out how the ABPI will be prioritising patients and health security in the future after Brexit and we have to redefine our relationship with the EU. It states that it believes the next government should base a future deal and relationship on cooperation regarding medicines regulation, trade, science and innovation, and access to talent.

It is also keen to build an environment that drives medicine discovery, ensuring that the UK is the best place in the world to research and develop new vaccines and medication.

To help further this end, it calls on the next government to commit to increasing research and development investment alongside industry in order to hit the target of investing 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product in research and development by 2027.

As well as the Life Sciences Skills Fund, the ABPI also wants to modernise the R&D tax credit and capital grant structure, while maintaining the country’s status as a leader in intellectual property.

President of the ABPI Haseeb Ahmad recently wrote an opinion piece on the organisation website, discussing what the manifesto means for patients around the UK.

The crucial point made is that the next government should ensure that everyone is able to access the latest treatments and vaccines.

In order to facilitate this, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will need to evolve, as well as a commitment made to ensure that money paid back to the NHS by companies under the voluntary pricing and access scheme is used to make sure that patients have better access to the latest medications.

Another key issue that the government has to face, Mr Ahmad continued, is Brexit and the relationship we’ll have with the EU in the future. A relationship must be reached that will cement cooperation on how medicines, trade, science, innovation and access to talent are all regulated.

And there are also steps that the incoming government will have to take to ensure that the UK is the best place for innovative science and medicine discovery in the world, ensuring that both jobs and investment are secured in the future.

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