The ABPI, it seems, has taken on the role of patient advocate, if listening to the trade body’s new president is anything to go by. 


“One of the things you can expect me to do is to speak up for what the right thing is for patients,” Jonathan Emms, who is also Pfizer UK’s managing director, told PharmaTimes Magazine in an interview. 

The industry has spoken about being patient-centric for some time, though sceptics have insisted this is merely lip service. But Mr Emms reiterated the role the ultimate customer plays with the sector: “At the end of the day this is about doing what is right for patients and about how to ensure the industry puts patients’ health as the number one priority.” Adding: “And whatever is good for patients is good for business – we have to be clear on that – and good for the health of the UK economy.” 

The stance lends itself nicely to the ABPI’s position on uptake of innovative medicines in the UK – which, allegedly, is one of the lowest and slowest in the EU, while new research has found a 10-fold variation in the uptake of drugs across the country. Mr Emms believes “the NHS has a medicines cabinet of the last century” and that patients deserve better. 

“Society has asked our industry to embark on our research pathway to find solutions. The industry has done that. But the medicines that are developed here are not used – that doesn’t send the right message.”

He claims the current process doesn’t work and is “sceptical” that value-based assessment, currently being consulted on and due to come into force in the autumn, will solve the issues. Instead, Mr Emms and the ABPI are calling for NICE to have a pro-innovation mandate from the government, similar to Scotland, though he admits this will be a “challenging path” to make happen.   

The full interview with Jonathan Emms will be published in the July/August issue of PharmaTimes Magazine – digital issue out Friday 11 July. To make sure you don’t miss out on reading about the new ABPI president’s thoughts on patients, drug prices and the industry’s reputation, subscribe now: