A Year of Milestones

Re searchThis is a year of milestones. Eighty years ago Eli Lilly and Company established its first office outside the US at 2-4 Dean Street in central London. At the time Lilly was one of America’s largest suppliers of medicines, and the London office was one of the first steps towards the company becoming a truly global healthcare provider.

Growth in the UK continued in the 1930’s and within two years a manufacturing plant was built in the strategically situated Basingstoke, with its strong links to London and Southampton’s shipping ports. 

Lilly now has three major sites in the UK, employs over 1,400 people, and in 2010 we invested £130 million in research and development (R&D). Throughout the past 80 years we have seen major discoveries originating from the UK, and we are very proud of our roots here and the contributions we have made to the UK economy.

Did you know, UK pharmaceutical R&D is responsible for producing around one eighth of the world’s top-selling medicines? According to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), 25% of all expenditure on R&D in UK businesses is by the pharmaceutical industry, and the sector invests approximately £11.5m every day in R&D. Since 2009, the pharmaceutical industry has helped the NHS to secure efficiencies of around £3bn, when other areas of NHS expenditure have increased dramatically.

This is impressive, but for this level of investment to continue and grow, and for the next generation of biomedical discovery to flourish, it is essential we have the right environment and incentives in place in Europe.  On average it takes over 12 years and costs around £1.15bn to research and develop a single new medicine, and it is important to ensure there is predictability and stability in how this is reimbursed. This is not always the case. 

Another milestone this year is the 20th anniversary of the Pharma Summit in London, which takes place today. The theme of the conference is ‘Reinventing Business Models and Markets’. The conference will explore specific questions on what the industry needs to do to survive. In particular whether the industry should be reinventing business models, entering new markets, employing more innovative technologies … and what about big data?

There is no question the industry is changing, and for the better. We have already seen new industry-wide commitments on clinical trial data sharing, and next year will start new reporting processes for engagement with healthcare professionals. New transparency initiatives can lead to better outcomes for the patient, but ultimately finding solutions to tackling unmet medical need, and eliminating barriers allowing access to those solutions, is at the heart of what we are all looking to achieve as an industry.

Making better healthcare systems for people is a collaborative mission. This year sees the 8th European Parliament elections taking place – yet another milestone. In this year of change and progress we need a greater understanding of what is needed from a policy perspective to allow us to continue to discover to make life better for people around the world.

Check out our Health and Growth campaign. Leading up to the European elections we will be running a series of blogs aimed at the new parliamentary intake. In the series we will build the case for a more ambitious and integrated life science strategy in the EU that sets clear priorities for policy-makers, industry and others working in the healthcare sector. We believe this will not only deliver better health outcomes for European citizens, but also support financially sustainable healthcare systems, and achieve economic growth in Europe.