Do Life Science organisations have the skills and capabilities to capitalise on the opportunities that partnership working brings?

2022-08-05 |  Su Jones

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)."

Figure 11 from the most recent OLS update: UK uptake (days of therapy) of new medicines, per capita, as a ratio of comparator countries average.

So what's my take on this?

In the first year post-launch, the Uptake Index ratio from the last three years reports (each covering a four-year time frame) has risen from .50 to 0.58. But we are woefully short of anything nearing competitiveness with the other comparator countries more struggling to be average!

In year five post-launch, we increased our Index ratio to 0.8, but we are still not even at the median percentage of 1.0. In order words, we are still not even average.

The conclusion is simple. Uptake in the UK continues to be below the average of comparators.

It is my contention that no matter how good access is, if uptake is not competitive, the attractiveness of launching new medicines and new technologies is simply not there. Post Brexit, the problem has been exacerbated and we are hearing from UK Country Managers that they are finding it increasingly hard to justify to global teams why the UK is an attractive place to launch. If new innovation doesn’t come to UK because uptake is low, we wont get access to new medicines at Ultimately, this will be detrimental to the UK population as some of the fantastic new technologies and innovation risk not being available.

All is not lost

However, data can and does mask individual success at a particular medicine, pathway and disease level and the UK landscape has never been better placed. The Life Science Vision of 2021 set out as a pre-condition of success to elevate the NHS to innovation partner status. The new go-live status of the Integrated Care System' offers' a fertile innovative environment.

Why is the ICS landscape better placed to support Uptake?

  • The NHS is ripe for greater use of translational research, bringing new innovations in treatments more quickly to our population and showcasing the power of an integrated data-rich health system. This speaks richly to opportunities to build Real World Evidence
  • Expansion of patient-reported metrics: not just at-home monitoring of clinical outcomes but the increasing emphasis on measuring therapy benefits from the perspective of the patient – moving beyond PREMs and into PROMs. This is further enriched by each new ICS having to develop its own outcomes framework (including some nationally set outcomes). We need to integrate the data, or at least the insights, from years’ worth of pharma company data collection to inform this
  • Address the biggest challenges facing healthcare systems including health equity and digital innovation, but also mental health and wellbeing, and population/public health

The whole system approach brings an opportunity to look across the whole care pathway from prevention, to diagnosis, through to treatment and recovery, It also heralds an era which could eliminate out-of-date and silo’d approaches to tackling issues by partnership’ taking on opportunities through collaborative working.

So there is reason to be hopeful but we must embrace the opportunity we now have and that calls for a different way of operating

Future capabilities required to embrace the opportunity

First and foremost Life Sciences organisations now need to be able to deal effectively with the complexity of multiple stakeholders in ICS. This calls for strategic partnership working and really having the capability to To engage around a shared vision. Sending the sales teams out to” go and have a chat with this person” will no longer be effective. If you can talk about pathway transformation, prevention, addressing the health inequity experienced by certain groups , better outcomes, with less workforce, ICS may listen.

LS companies can undertake pathway mapping and segmentation of ICS’s to find pockets of opportunity but have organisations really developed their skills to partner and participate in the new ecosystems and evolved their propositions to participate? Have they answered the question of how will we measure impact and assess value?

Act now to ensure that your not missing that boat!

Join others now to understand how ready you are! Take our Strategic Partnership maturity assessment to get an instant read-out and access to a FREE workshop to develop internal thinking and advocacy in your Life Science organisation

Why work with PEN Partnership? 

Relying on transactional approaches is unlikely to get you around the health and care system access and uptake challenges you face. Innovative new medicines and technologies will require new delivery models and a different operating model for Life Science companies. Diffusing uptake from novel commercial arrangements is challenging. From the point of strategic decision-making to integration into health ecosystems, PEN can help you create a value-based and sustainable company that delivers the experiences and outcomes people want. Our goal is to work with you to be a true partner, with health ecosystems in such key challenges as supporting the reduction of health inequalities.

Our subject matter expertise is in establishing and operationalising strategic level partnerships. We have experience identifying and building solution specific partnerships and capability in ongoing partnership management. Our organisational maturity assessment can help you understand where you are now and enable us to co-create, with you, a roadmap to build your organisational maturity together. We have tools to enable successful partnerships by ensuring you have principles to guide design, frameworks to assess value, and case studies to take key learnings from. Finally, to go beyond advisory boards to establish expert partnerships, where you all have skin in the game, to define and deliver health ecosystem solutions together. 

Get in Touch

Su Jones has led strategic partnership projects involving the NHS, Academia, Biopharmaceuticals, Top 10 Pharma companies and more. She has experience leading strategic novel partnerships at the UK's ABPI and is a recognised thought leader within the Life Sciences strategic partnership space. 

If you'd like to find out more about developing Life Science partnerships with PEN, you can contact Su on LinkedIn. Just click this link.