Memorandum submitted by the Association
of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
1. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical
Industry (ABPI) represents the majority of the companies in Britain
engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and supply
of prescription medicines. The ABPI brings together companies
producing such medicines, whether branded or generic, many smaller
organisations involved in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical
R&D, and those with an interest in the pharmaceutical industry
operating in the UK. ABPI member companies manufacture and supply
more than 80 per cent of the medicines prescribed through the
NHS and are major exporters to countries all over the world.
2. Six out of the world's top 25 medicines
were discovered and developed in British laboratories. As a result,
patients in the UK benefit from the early introduction of new
3. The industry's long history of pharmaceutical
innovation is supported by intensive research activity. The vast
majority of medicines research carried out in the UK is funded
by the pharmaceutical industry and most of the major global pharmaceutical
companies have established research and manufacturing bases in
this country. As a result, the industry is an important employer,
with around 60,000 people employed directly and many more in feeder
industries. The industry invested £2.7 billion in R&D
in 1999more than £7 million every day.
4. The strengths of the pharmaceutical industry's
R&D activities in the UK are dependent upon the quality of
the graduates and postgraduates arising from the countries; universities.
The industry's confirmed investment in the UK has also long been
dependent upon the quality of the research carried out in the
universities, research institutes and clinical centres here, with
many of which collaborative arrangements have long been established.
5. In view of the importance of the UK Science
Base to the pharmaceutical industry, the ABPI and its member companies
saw the introduction of the 1993 White Paper as a major development.
6. ABPI considered at the time that the
1993 White Paper was seminal in placing science on the Government
agenda in a serious way. No other initiatives in the previous
two decades had attempted to address the many issues related to
the academic science base, education and industrial needs and
opportunities. The ABPI believed that the then Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster, William Waldegrave, and the Chief Scientific
Officer, William Stewart, were an excellent team who created enough
energy to conceive and implement this White Paper.
7. One of the key outcomes of the White
Paper was the Technology Foresight initiative which, as Foresight,
has just come to the end of another round of consultation. The
ABPI was actively involved in the early discussions on Foresight
as an exemplar of good practice, an industry with a strong research
base, high productivity and a substantial contribution to the
Nation's balance of payments. The industry participated in many
of the Foresight Taskforces and was widely involved in the Foresight
process, particularly on the Chemicals and Health Care Panels.
The extent to which the industry believes that
the objectives set out in the 1993 White Paper "Realising
our Potential" has been delivered
8. ABPI believes that in the main, the objectives
of the 1993 White Paper were met.
9. In particular, the profile of science
and scientists was raised across the nation in academia, Government
establishments, industry and the investment community and with
the public. The take-up was variable, of course, but there were
many good initiatives, including Foresight and the SET programmes.
It was particularly important that the White Paper allowed more
effective access to Government, and its agencies, by scientists,
initially through the Duchy of Lancaster and subsequently through
10. There was more transparency on the budgetary
aspects of the science base, particularly over a longer time frame
through the Forward Look documents and the dialogue created around
11. The restructured Research Councils and
the appointment of the Director General of Research Councils were
seen as successful and positive moves to relate the funding of
research more closely to its community. The operation of the main
Research Councils, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, and ESRC remain generally
effective. Issues concerning the interface between the formal
remits of the Councils, as in life sciences research, do continue
to arise, but are generally handled well.
12. The Science Base still requires a significant
improvement in infrastructure, particularly in its academic elements.
It must be acknowledged, however, that substantial efforts have
been made through the recent infrastructural funding initiative.
A longer-term programme of investment is, however, needed.
13. The public is still uncomfortable with
some elements of science and its products. A number of the major
issues over the last five years, eg BST, GMOs, cloning etc, have
made this worse. Although the SET weeks and other initiatives
have in themselves been successful, it is disappointing the public
at large remains deeply suspicious of science, particularly when
it is conducted in industry. The ABPI and its member companies
have active programmes in promoting the benefits of their research,
but more can and should be done. To increase public awareness
of science requires, we believe, more innovative thought and resource.
Greater transparency in the handling of scientific issues by Government
is also needed.
14. The 1993 White Paper was necessarily
pan-sectoral although Technology Foresight did try to address
specific sectoral interests, e.g chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc.
The pharmaceutical industry was seen as an excellent example of
industry in tune with its science base, and was often quoted as
"best practice". As a result, unfortunately, it may
have subsequently been less favoured with initiatives, a casualty
of its own success.
Technology Foresight was an excellent strategic
tool but perhaps was used too early in tactical funding decisions
on an annual basis. Foresight was intended to look 10-20 years
into the future.
15. Govermental efforts then and now are
motivated towards increasing the number of spin-out, start-up
companies. Whilst the growth of the SME biotech community is to
be welcomed, the need for sustainability must be considered. In
the long-term, high-risk, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical
sectors, there was, has been and still is a lack of adequate funding
at the second stage of development of companies. It is at this
stage (where ideas, which have been reduced to practice and taken
on into development) that there is a shortage of resourcing. Companies
at this stage require money in the £2-5 million bracket rather
than the £0.2-5 million needed for seed corn investment.
16. The reorganised Research Councils took
a long time to address interface areas of science, many of which
are of substantial interest to the industry, notably biomolecular
sciences, pharmaceutical sciences and materials science in the
biological arena. This is an aspect that the DGRC is undoubtedly
aware of, but the barriers to progress remains a matter for concern
in the user community. At the same time, co-ordinating major initiatives,
for example, linking electronic patient records and SNP databases,
remains a difficult issue that appears only able to be tackled
at Governmental level.
Whether the objectives and themes of the 1993
White Paper remain appropriate to the development of a strategy
for science, engineering and technology and, if not, what other
themes and objectives would be more beneficial.
17. THE ABPI
THE 1993 WHITE
New areas of particular interest to the pharmaceutical
industry relate to the increase in partnership structures between
companies themselves and between the industry and academia. There
is also a growing increase of "contracted out research"
outside perceived core areas of expertise in companies. This suggests
that flexibility and inter-disciplinarity should be key elements
in any new themes and that sectoral difference should be recognised.
Whether attempts to deliver the proposals of the
1993 White Paper have resulted in a culture change across, or
in parts of, the science, engineering and technology base and,
if so, what is the nature of this change and how has it been demonstrated?
18. The proposals of the 1993 White Paper
attempted to induce a cultural change across the UK's science
base. Although the industry has been going through major changes
since the publication of the White Paper, the ABPI believes that
few cultural changes have occurred in the industry as a result
of the White Paper. There have, however, been substantial changes
in the interactions between the Research Councils and industry,
which are welcomed and hopefully will be further developed over
The Government's recent consultation on Science
and Innovation Strategy stated that "the aim is to use the
UK's excellence in science to achieve improvements in our national
innovation performance and so to improve the competitiveness of
the economy and the quality of everyone's life" and indicated
its plans to achieve this by:
sustaining the excellence of the
science and technology base
encouraging private investment in
streamlining knowledge transfer schemes
and focussing them on clear goals
fostering regional networks
improving the flow of skilled scientists
and engineers to industry
improving the ability of the science
base to play a role in the knowledge economy
taking advantage of the globalisation
of research, and
improving public confidence by creating
greater transparency in the regulation of science.
19. The Government's recent consultation
on Science and Innovation Strategy, which sought to use the UKs
excellence in the science base to achieve improvements in our
national innovation performance, was timely and useful.
20. ABPI supports the goal of sustained
excellence in the academic Science Base but feels that the key
issues of selection and directed funding to Centres of Excellence
in research has not been addressed.
We have long argued that limited resources,
available in the UK for funding research, cannot be applied across
more than 100 universities in the expectation that excellence
will be developed or sustained. We welcomed the commitment given
in the White Paper to continuing support for dual-funding and
continue to believe that this is important if truly innovative
new science is to be carried out. It has long been clear, however,
that the dual-funding system is under-resourced. Though selectivity
of resource allocation is essential, we accept that it carries
with it the danger of stifling the unexpected and preventing the
emergence of new centres of excellence: dual-funding provides
an essential mechanism to allow new fields to become established.
21. We also feel that the arrangements for
the training of postgraduate scientists (policy 12 in 1.18 of
the White Paper) still leave room for improvement and there is
still a serious problem in the career track for professional young
22. Encouraging private investment in innovation
differs between sectors and the biotechnology sector/industry
has been extremely volatile of late. We accept that there is an
inadequate amount of second stage funding available for those
start-ups recently established in the UK. At the same time, the
present trend towards consolidation by SMEs may have mixed results.
Certainly some companies are being encouraged into partnerships
that may not be in the long term interests of the prospective
partners but the result does allow exits for investors.
23. Knowledge transfer is a key driver for
the pharmaceutical industry but its transfer needs are probably
different to the needs in other sectors and a sensitive approach
is needed to this area.
24. There is clearly a major opportunity
within the SME sector of the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical
industry in the provision of regional support networks. SMEs need
access to such support but can rarely make time to attend discussion
or help groups which appear to be centred in London, Edinburgh
or Cardiff. Increasing the tailored support for SME needs locally
would be a great help along with an awareness programme and seamless
25. The supply of skilled postgraduate and
postdoctoral scientists to industry remains vitally important.
The industry will, however, always look for the "Quality"
descriptor in such supply chains and indeed would be happy to
work with academia in their supply. The ABPI continues to have
discussions with Learned and Professional Societies to seek their
perspective on this issue and to promote current industry thinking.
It is important that the infrastructure to support the training
needs for the industry is well maintained.
26. In our industry the science base is
integral in our knowledge economyindeed it is integrated
throughout the whole supply chain from discovery through development
to manufacture and sales. We are a global industry and try to
seek appropriate support through tax incentives, effective but
not excessive regulatory processes, a minimal bureaucracy consonant
with effective business procedures and a general supportive environment.
We do recognise that the needs of SMEs mid-range and "big"
pharma may differ and try to participate in discussions with other
representative organisations to achieve a balanced solution.
ABPI and its member companies tries locally
and nationally to build public confidence by creating greater
transparency in the regulation of science. We do not believe the
answer lies in the greater regulation of science.
What do we believe should be the main features
of a modern strategy for science, engineering and technology,
27. A modern strategy for science, engineering
and technology must be open, interactive, and be embedded in both
government and industrial cultures. The ABPI is committed to work
with all parties to achieve this. That the Government is again
preparing a White Paper on Science and Innovation is a welcome
sign that the importance of science to the UK economy is fully
appreciated. If the forthcoming White Paper is as effective in
stimulating awareness as was "Realising our Potential"
in 1993 then it will be an important and influential document.