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DoH encourages pharma-NHS joint working

Partnerships and joint working initiatives between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS have been endorsed by the Department of Health as an effective means to improve patient care in the UK.

Partnerships and joint working initiatives between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS have been endorsed by the Department of Health (DoH) as an effective means to improve patient care in the UK.

Dawn Primarolo MP, who spoke of government support for pharma industry collaboration at a high-profile MHRA press event in November, openly welcomed the latest guidance from the DoH.

"This best practice guidance demonstrates that patients really can get better care when the NHS and industry work together," she said, recognising the contribution pharma companies can make in improving healthcare and adding that "we want the NHS to work with them more".

The fresh DoH guidance on NHSñpharma partnerships will not only promote collaboration between NHS organisations and staff in delivering high quality healthcare, but will also "inform and advise" NHS workers of their chief responsibilities when working with pharma companies. 

Examples of current joint PCT/pharma projects were cited in the DoH announcement, including an initiative between East Lincolnshire PCT and three companies to identify people with suspected COPD. The programme, which saw bespoke COPD clinics set up and physicians trained to manage the patients, led to a 23 per cent fall in admission rates for COPD. In just five months, more than one-third of 215 'case-managed' patients who had 'acute episodes' dealt successfully with the incidents at home. The DoH has not revealed the estimated savings made in avoiding hospital admissions as a direct result of the collaboration.

Director-general of the ABPI, Richard Barker, was keen to highlight such "constructive" use of pharma's expert knowledge in key therapy areas. "The pharmaceutical industry has a huge amount of expertise, not only in the modern, innovative medicines it has researched but also in the conditions they have been developed to treat... the importance of this knowledge being shared with our partners in the NHS for the benefits of patients is being recognised."

When ABPI president, Nigel Brooksby, launched the association's Manifesto in 2006, he told Pharmaceutical Marketing in an exclusive interview that "joint working will work for the UK", adding that he was looking forward to closer collaboration with the government in the future.

The new guidance also supports the Long-Term Leadership Strategy for medicines, published in February 2007 by the Ministerial Industry Strategy Group, which recommended in additional the development of a 'joint working toolkit' for mutual use by the NHS and pharma. This is currently being evaluated and is due to be launched in March.

4th February 2008

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