Pharma has to take a closer interest in the competing demands a commissioner has to deal with, an independent commissioning expert has urged. 

Sheela Upadhyaya, a committee member of the NICE highly specialised technologies programme and independent commissioning expert, was speaking alongside other healthcare experts in a recent debate on patient access issues, hosted by healthcare marketing communications agency Aurora.

It is only by taking a closer interest in commissioners’ competing demands that more effective collaboration will take place, with best practice shared in a timely manner, she said. It is this that will help improve market access, she added. 

Other speakers were: David Gilbert, director at InHealth Associates, who talked about the importance of involving patients in service design decisions to improve access; Joanne Sopala, director of fundraising and marketing for the MS Trust, who gave examples of how using third-party organisations as enablers can get great results for improved patient access; and Aurora director Aaron Pond, who shared insights from the agency’s research that looked at the key themes and barriers to getting better patient access to medicines.  

A key theme, and consensus, emerged from the meeting about the need for ‘adult conversations’ by all parties. 

Neil Crump, Aurora managing director, said: “Of all the problems the healthcare economy is facing, access is one of the biggest. Uptake issues once medicines are available for use still persist. No one seems to be able to break the cycle. We believe this is the right time to start looking at solutions instead of talking up the problems, especially with the recent publication of the Government’s Life Science Competitiveness indicators, which shows the UK as lagging internationally in providing patients with access to new, innovative medicines.”

Aurora has been focusing on why patient access remains a persistent challenge despite new innovations being deemed clinically and cost effective. The agency launched the Access All Areas campaign at the start of 2015 as a response to the rhetoric surrounding the issue with the aim of providing a collaborative forum to look at overcoming the challenges. 

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