Addressing health inequalities across Europe is a key challenge and it is vital to end the wide variability between member states in the speed with which innovative medicines become available.

That was the message of Andrew Witty, the GlaxoSmithKline chief executive who was speaking at the recent 21st Century Healthcare for Europe conference in Brussels under his role as president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, He said that "health for all must be achieved collaboratively at local, national and European level", noting that "the more institutions work together in a trusting environment, the more likely the right approaches can be developed”.

Mr Witty argued that “Industry must deliver new medicines and vaccines that address unmet patient need and have demonstrable value". He went on to say that "this means getting R&D right – reversing the decline in productivity, improving success rates for regulatory approval, and delivering medicines that add more than incrementally to a physician’s capabilities".

The GSK boss noted that the pharmaceutical industry is "hugely innovative", and if  supported by governments, it will "deliver the next era of revolutionary medicine". He added that this needs the  right policy and regulatory framework in Europe, and "we  rmust shift focus from cost to value, and set a strategic agenda that addresses unmet need, outlines clear disease priorities and allows shared understandings of value".

Mr Witty concluded by saying that "in this challenging climate, it is vital to achieve the best results for patients across the European Union, for public budgets and for industry. This requires an equilibrium between the needs of different players, with patients put first".