The pharmaceutical industry is a sector of strategic importance, standing on the threshold of innovation, said Mike Thompson, Chief Executive, ABPI, as he welcomed 350 delegates to Pharma Integrates 2016.
With an impressive line-up of more than 70 speakers, senior level delegates from every part of the pharmaceutical industry and an incisive agenda of debate-led content, Pharma Integrates 2016 offered a packed programme of breakthrough content that challenged established paradigms and put new operational models for pharmaceutical production up for discussion.
Panellists and delegates tackled issues such as the rise of precision medicine, disruptive thinking in pharmaceutical regulation, achieving patient compliance, future pharmaceutical supply chains and more during 2 days of debate and insight.
Closing the fifth edition of Pharma Integrates, Prof. Trevor Jones, CBE, member of the board of eTherapeutics and Chairman of Simbec Orion Research, observed that “Involving the patient at every stage of the drug discovery and development process is critical to the future of the pharmaceutical industry.” Putting the patient first was a recurring theme during the content-packed 2-day event in London, UK, with many stakeholders offering different insights about what patient centricity actually means.
Pfizer’s Bev Nicol suggested that Big Pharma needs to supply patients with what they want and need, and actually ask them what they think. Another delegate opined that industry should think about patients as real human beings and assess how their products and services fit into how people live and work. Targeting the condition is paramount, added a panellist, but we must also address the symptoms that matter to the patient.
AstraZeneca’s Andy Jones advised the capacity crowd to “Follow the science,” saying that “It will show you the path to market.” Although not universally supported as a business concept, the mantra was a constant one. “We need to redefine the role of the clinician and the patient to identify and address unmet medical needs,” added Lonza’s Jesus Zurdo, and Gary Acton of Pirates of Oncology went even further: “It’s time for a complete deconstruction and revision of pharma’s regulatory framework,” he stated.
Andy Jones agreed, saying “Pharma R&D is too compartmentalized. We need to identify the unmet medical need and work towards it.” Furthermore, Martin Lush, President, NSF Health Sciences, Pharma Biotech Consulting, advised the audience that “Unless we simplify, we won’t see the next punch coming!”
In the newly introduced one-on-one interviews, Prof. Guido Rasi, Executive Director, European Medicines Agency, was quick to dismiss the possibility of a common EU pricing policy and reiterated that EMA has no role at all in drug pricing. He also stated that a post-Brexit move for EMA’s headquarters was not a foregone conclusion and expressed concern about disruption and the loss of experts pending an EMA departure from London.
When Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford, was in the hot seat, he commented: “We have the best science base in EU, but we need to maintain a good talent flow and embrace disruption. The UK pharma industry has added 9 years to male life expectancy and 8 years to females in the last 30 years, he added. He also acknowledged that “the data revolution is real,” but admitted that the next big challenge will be managing patient information in the context of Big Pharma, security, trust and confidentiality.
Under the overarching theme of Shaping Pharma’s Future, Martin Price, Janssen, said: “We should be rewarded for the health outcomes we deliver, not the packages we sell.” Andy Jones, agreed, adding: “Pharma should be paid on outcomes and not volume … and that change is coming. The pharmaceutical industry needs to rediscover its ethical core.” Richard Seabrook of The Wellcome Trust confirmed that “Outcomes-based drugs are the way forward, but more work needs to be done.”
If there was a single take-home message from the event, it was partnership. Trevor Jones said that it’s not part of our past, but it has to be part of our future. And, throughout the sessions, collaboration was proposed as the new pharma business model. Can it be done? Can pharma escape its own silos? The road to high performance R&D is to share and collaborate bravely, be optimistic and realise just how far we’ve actually come, concluded Duncan McHale of UCB Pharma.
Pharma Integrates 2017 will take place on 15–16 November in London, UK.