The UK continues to lag well behind its international peers on providing patients with access to new, innovative medicines, a government report shows.

The Life Science Competitiveness Indicators - compiled by the the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills - is a dashboard looking at how well the UK is performing on the global life science stage compared to other countries. 

At the request of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the report also looks at the uptake of new medicines approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence across the comparator countries, and the findings are not good news for UK patients.

Uptake of new medicines is just 11% of the average of other developed countries after one year, less than a third of the average after two years, and only half the average after four years, highlighting that this “remains a major issue,” said Alison Clough, the ABPI’s executive director of Commercial UK. 

“We know that these low and slow levels of uptake are even worse for non-NICE approved medicines after five years from launch. Not only is this a disadvantage for patients in the UK who are not able to access the newest, most innovative medicines when they need them, but we can now see that this is a disadvantage to the country as a whole impacting our global competitiveness,” she added. 

On the plus side, according to the indicators the number of science graduates in the UK and employment in pharmaceutical manufacturing is slowly rising. But it also showed that the gross value added by the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has declined and then flat lined since 2010, and that government spending on R&D has fallen slightly.