Nonetheless, Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), has taken
it upon himself to voice the industry's concerns. "The ABPI is working closely with the government to determine how we can
dramatically accelerate the uptake of innovation within the healthcare system. The government recognizes that innovation is
a key part of the solution to cutting costs," he explains. One of his main goals is to get both his members and healthcare
authorities "to stop thinking about the product lifecycle as the patent lifecycle, because the real lifecycle of a product
extends beyond that—closer to 40 years. The value of a medicine, starting from discovery to the point where it is replaced
by something else is much greater than what is currently taken into account because medicines are typically used for about
40 years before a replacement treatment is available."
Simon Jose, General Manager & Senior Vice President UK Pharma, GSK
Such a pioneering approach to appraising medicines would surely be in line with VBP's stated goal of evaluating medicines
holistically, but local managers are still weary of whether the new pricing scheme can accelerate the current evaluation process.
Nick Burgin, European director of market access for Eisai, feels that "whilst VBP is an opportunity to improve access to patients
for new medicines, it does have the potential to make patient access worse. It could make the process even longer than it
already is and lead to a greater number of payers and decision makers having to agree on access to a single product."
Despite the company's concerns over the local market environment, Eisai has chosen the UK as its new European headquarters
from which all other markets in the region will be centrally managed, touting the country's talent pool and expertise as a
strategic advantage. Gary Hendler, president and CEO of Eisai Europe, lays out the company's new regional strategy that has
"shifted the focus from being country-specific to becoming European-specific. Now each country operates as a business unit
that reports into a single European business unit constructed by therapy area and/or business synergy. The exciting challenge
for us is to bring the differences and similarities of all these countries under one Eisai European business model as opposed
to a business model that is the sum of all its parts".
Basing themselves in the UK also makes sense considering that the country has traditionally punched well above its weight
within the global pharmaceutical sector, representing 10% of global R&D expenditures for the industry, as well as a hub for
manufacturing. Even though one-sixth of today's most popular prescription medicines were developed in the UK, the dilemma
is now whether the country can maintain its status as a pharma powerhouse and a trendsetting market for the rest of the world.
Burgin concludes that "this situation is not unique to the UK, with the increasing demands on health systems across Europe,
many European countries are implementing various methods of cost containment. The question is how to retain a vibrant pharmaceutical
industry in the region while at the same time making treatments affordable to the national healthcare systems that pay for
Simon Jose, general manager of GSK UK, asserts "that as long as we all play our parts and are mature about the way forward,
then we will be able to fashion a more harmonized system where our resources are deployed more efficiently to improve patient
outcomes." "Fortunately, or unfortunately, the UK is leading the world in this direction, so that pharmaceutical products
begin to be evaluated based on their added value to patients and healthcare systems," states Martin Dawkins, Bayer's general
manager in the UK. "This is a change that I foresee, and the UK will be one of the leading markets that will bring on this
shift in mentality to think in terms of integrated healthcare. The focus will be on how a product will affect the greater
population in terms of costs and benefits rather than only focusing on the patients that will be using the treatment directly,"