Crossover Appointments Boost UK Industry–Government Relationship

February 4, 2018
Leela Barham

Leela Barham is a freelance health economist and policy expert. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. She has provided advice to the Department of Health and Social Care on policy on pricing of branded medicines to inform the negotiation of a successor to the UK’s Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS), as well as worked with patient groups, the NHS, pharmaceutical companies and many others internationally on the economics of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Contact Leela on

Professor Carole Longson's move from NICE to the ABPI is another appointment that helps to square the balance between UK industry and Government. Leela Barham reports.

Last summer the UK Department of Health announced a new role, Chief Commercial Officer, and managed to secure Steve Oldfield for the role. Oldfield has a wealth of experience from industry both in the UK and abroad and from innovative to generic medicines.

Now Professor Carole Longson, who developed a global reputation in setting up and running NICE’s Technology Appraisal work, has made a move to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Longson has worked at NICE for the last 17 years. Before then she worked at GSK R&D as a research lead, so she has expertise from the industry perspective. The ABPI has suggested that bringing in Longson in a new post of Chief Scientific Officer, signals “industry’s commitment to strengthening the focus on science, research and discovery”. They also highlight the ambition that Longson can connect with NHS researchers. In practical terms, while Longson won’t formally leave NICE until April 12, she stepped down immediately once the move was official.

Longson joins the lister of other high profile moves from industry to the "other side". Sir Andrew Witty is chairing the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), a new initiative set up by Government (but recommended by an independent review) to get the NHS using transformative innovations. Patrick Vallance, formerly Head of R&D at GSK, took the post of Chief Scientific Officer for the government.

The timing is right for both Government and industry to be seeing things from each others’ side as they prepare for negotiating the successor to the 2014 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), a voluntary scheme that regulates the profit companies make on sales to the NHS. That said, there are those who raise concerns about the revolving door between industry and Government. But the truth is a good deal is one that serves patients, and that needs balance in meeting what Government wants from industry and what industry wants from Government. Seeing things from the other side might just help strike that balance.

Leela Barham is providing input as a subject matter expert into medicines pricing policy development with a UK government client and for the duration of her involvement in that project, she is restricted on what she can write about.