Each year the Office for Life Sciences publish its competitiveness indicator reports and the most recent update was published on 21st July.
In the ministerial forward to the latest update, the opportunity for Life Science organisations is summed up brilliantly:
“In the current environment, it is vital that we use our collective ingenuity, drawing on expertise from academia, industry and those with lived experience to help tackle the healthcare challenges facing many in the UK and across the globe, such as mental health, addiction, and obesity. These are complex and multi-causal conditions, for which life sciences innovations will be an essential tool to solve”.
They go on to point out that; “We have one of the most amenable business environments in the world, and our ambition is to capitalise on this and to make the UK the most attractive place in Europe and to build a dynamic environment to enable life sciences businesses to thrive in the UK. In creating an attractive business environment, we will need to provide a better system to support new and existing inward investors to invest in the UK. The LSCIs also show that the UK life science sector secured £7bn in equity financing in 2021, a greater than twelve-fold increase since 2012."
But is this really as impactful as it sounds?
The most recent report paints a picture of progress in many areas, however for the UK to be a truly attractive market to launch new medicines and new technologies we need to understand and address the entrenched issue of "Access and Uptake of medicines".
Before I share some opinions, let's make sure we are all working to the same understanding of the terminology
- Access – This is the focus on supply and commercial arrangements
- Uptake – This is the healthcare system uptake of that medicine/health technology and, ultimately, how many patients are prescribed it
On the subject of access we have seen great examples of NHSE approach to pursuing innovative arrangements as a success. The deal done with Roche and NICE to support atezolimizumab for patients with non-small cell lung cancer is evidence of this. The long awaited Innovative Medicine Fund with an annual budget of £340m – the same as the Cancer Drugs Fund – will offer early access to promising medicines. Indeed it will support the delivery of the governments rare disease action plan which again aims to ensure people living with rare conditions will benefit.
However, if we focus on uptake, the picture is not positive. Uptake in the UK is a long term problem area and continues to be below the average of comparators.
So how did we fare last year regarding Uptake of medicines?
Going back to the report, it states:
"The uptake ratio measures the relative adoption of new medicines in the UK in contrast to other countries. The uptake ratio measures relative uptake in terms of days of therapy (DOT) per capita for new medicines recommended by NICE and first launched between 2014 and 2020. The UK DOT per capita ratio to the average DOT per capita for comparator countries is calculated for each medicine. Then the median of these ratios is taken to summarise how uptake in the UK compares to other countries – this value is hereafter referred to as the uptake ratio (ref OLSS)."