Insights from ABPI Conference June 30th, 2022

20th July 2022 by Becca Norton

If you couldn’t attend the ABPI Conference this year and are interested to know more about what was discussed during some of the sessions, take a look below at our short summaries of what we think were the most valuable insights from the meeting.

A warm welcome by Pinder Sahota

Newly appointed ABPI President, Pinder Sahota, provided an engaging introduction by sharing his journey, experience and passion for the pharmaceutical industry which grew from seeing the positive impact that bringing treatments to market can have on patients’ lives. He spoke about his determination to ensure that the ABPI support the UK in becoming a global influence within the life sciences industry.

The UK as an innovation nation

It was a great opportunity to hear from the ABPI committee and conference speakers on the fantastic work that continues across the various industry sectors as well as what should be the main focus right now for our industry to drive innovation. There was a clear collective determination to facilitate even smarter collaboration in driving down costs, providing greater access to medicines and enable the UK to broaden its life science influence.

Leaders across many of these sectors participated in person including Genomics, UK, Health Data Research UK, Association of Medical Research Charities, NIHR Clinical Research Network, Department for International Trade, Meningitis Now, Duchenne UK, MHRA, NICE, NHSE and Improvement and GSK and we were also joined virtually by Lord Kamall, Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences.  

Together they joined the hosts in either leading the sessions or engaging in panel discussions to debate themes such as maintaining the momentum in provision of whole genomic sequencing diagnostics to the NHS via Genomics England; improving the reliability of data through investment in training; greater patient involvement in research, product development and appraisals; and continuing the progress being made through the post-BREXIT trade negotiations …to name but a few.  


How pharma can help NICE help pharma! 

Initiatives such as the recent introduction of the Innovative Medicines Fund which aims to provide faster access to non-cancer drugs, is expected to accelerate the growing number of successful submissions that have enabled patients access to innovative treatments. A review of appraisals which resulted in published guidance within 90 days showed a few common factors that contributed to these successes:

Early notification: Giving NICE prior notice in advance of the submission.

Timely submissions: Sticking to timelines to reduce the number of extensions or requests for additional evidence after the submission deadline.

Best value offers upfront: Increase the chances of a positive outcome from the first committee meeting.

Early commercial negotiations: Ensure that commercial deals are finalised in time for the first committee meeting.

Building these activities into HTA submissions will support NICE in facilitating an effective appraisal process.


Innovation is driving more access to medicines

There have been a number of significant achievements for NHS England’s Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU) in recent times due to a continual drive for innovation combined with effective partnerships across industry and healthcare organisations. This includes major gene therapy and rare disease solutions during the global pandemic, which have had a substantial impact on specific disease communities.

·        In cystic fibrosis, the CMU were able to expedite a 90% uptake of life-changing treatment within 3 months which also included the implementation of pre-agreed licence extensions.

·        A novel gene therapy listed as the most expensive drug in the world was approved first time round providing another example of a positive outcome from negotiating the best commercial deal up front. 

·        A ground-breaking deal between pharma and the NHS to provide patients with treatments which cure Hepatitis C was implemented to proactively identify patients who were unaware of having contracted the disease. This has led to a substantial fall in deaths from Hepatitis C related diseases and reduction in liver transplants.

The importance of sharing these examples was to highlight that the cost is not always a barrier to patient access, that innovation is not just about the price of medicines and with the CMU there is the appetite to find ways to work together and solutions that take into consideration the longer-term impact.

With suitable commercial arrangements and levers in place to drive uptake there is the opportunity to reach significant proportions of patients and have international influence.

The key considerations for the CMU are:

Supporting the patient’s contribution to NICE submissions

NICE will be looking at ways to improve the patient voice within the appraisal process. The aim is to see how best to capture what is really going on for patients and provide a more pleasant experience for those patients who are living with their condition so that they can feel confident in holding the committee to account. 

Navigating the NICE submission process

Project Hercules is an example of an initiative which has been set up by Duchenne UK to overcome the challenges of preparing a Heath Technology Assessment (HTA) submission process in a rare disease. So far, many obstacles have been navigated through the development and use of improved models, data and resources that could potentially be useful for other disease areas.

NICE will be taking a thoughtful and multi-faceted approach when looking to make improvements to appraisal processes generally, e.g., the introduction of a support package for rare diseases. This includes for example, making sure that any new models are suitable for all relevant treatments.  

Lastly, it was also a lovely opportunity for a few of the medDigital team to spend some time in person with both new and old acquaintances. Thank you also to the BMA House team who were the perfect hosts. They ran a flawless conference, ensured we were looked after and well fed …the canapes were amazing!