A report published by pharmaceuticals firm Novartis UK has recommended that recent collaboration across the life sciences sector continues after the company identified enhanced collective efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release from Novartis UK, the ‘New Possible’ report has revealed that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic represented a collective and enhanced collaboration between government, regulators, academia, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Novartis also recently announced it has signed an initial agreement to provide manufacturing capacity in Stein, Switzerland for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The report suggests that continued collaboration is a means to ‘unlock’ the potential of the UK life sciences sector and that embracing digital solutions across healthcare beyond COVID-19 was key to improving patient outcomes and innovation in research

The report suggests the new ways of working, which have emerged in response to the pandemic, that could help to accelerate future medical discoveries and also lead to more patient-centric approaches to healthcare in the future, such as:

  • The fast-track COVID-19 research programme established by the National Institute for Health Research programme could bring significant benefits to patients by improving the speed at which new treatments are made available if expanded into other disease areas.
  • Novel approaches to clinical trials that make use of technological advances, such as remote patient monitoring and courier delivery of medicines to patients’ homes, ensured the continuation of some research at the start of the pandemic.
  • Harnessing the power of technology across clinical trials, service delivery and research beyond COVID-19 could remove some of the barriers to care access, accelerate innovation and offer more cost-effective approaches for healthcare providers.
  • Innovative methods of delivering care and addressing unmet patient needs may enhance the resilience of the health service, help to tackle health inequalities and support the NHS in building back better from the pandemic.

The report also highlighted the potential of collaborations focussed on the discovery of new uses for existing medicines, which could be of particular use in rare disease research, where only five per cent of conditions currently have a licensed treatment available.

Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patient involvement in decision-making relating to their health is really important, particularly as the health service rebuilds for the long-term.”

She added that the ongoing coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the need to ensure the NHS and its partners are continually considering the impact of their actions on patients, and the need to involve them in the decisions to be made about their care.

“COVID-19 and our collective response to it brought greater innovation and health service transformation than witnessed in generations,” said Chinmay Bhatt, managing director of Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, Ireland and Nordics.

“We have seen that we are stronger, more innovative and more sustainable when we work together. To overcome the substantial pressures on the health service, it is crucial that we sustain these new ways of working in the years to come,” he added.

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