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New ABPI partnership team should be NHS 'bridge-head' for industry

Partnership team will be lead by Kevin Blakemore, formerly of UCB and GSK

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

The UK's Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has set up a new team that aims to collaborate with the NHS at a regional level in order to improve the health of patients.

Launched at the industry organisation's annual conference, the team will be led by Kevin Blakemore, a former national healthcare partnership manager at UCB and senior area sales manager at GlaxoSmithKline, who will oversee four other industry professionals covering the four strategic health authority (SHA) clusters in England. Blakemore will report to the ABPI's NHS partnership director Carol Blount.

The clusters, which consist of NHS London, NHS North of England, NHS Midlands and East and NHS South of England, were formed in October 2011 as a means to aid transition to the empowerment of the NHS Commissioning Board under Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms.

The ABPI will use its newly-formed team to establish relationships with these clusters, with specific tasks including the identification and removal of barriers to accessing innovative medicines and the development of regional partnership projects.

The ABPI's chief executive Stephen Whitehead said: “This team will aim to establish strong sustainable relationships between the industry and key regional NHS figures within England to address a range of healthcare challenges for more rapid access and uptake of medicines.”

Sharing best practice in healthcare between clusters will also feature in the ABPI's plans, with an ultimate goal to improve uptake and health outcomes in each region.

This would be done on a general scale, and individual companies and products will not be promoted, according to the ABPI.

Whitehead said: “The ABPI has a unique opportunity to be utilised as a bridge-head for the industry into the NHS. We're a trusted partner with the NHS and we represent your interest. We've got to fulfil that more properly to be truly a part of your market access team.”

The announcement builds on increasing rhetoric from the ABPI that, in times of financial restraint and increasing demands from the UK healthcare system, the pharma industry need to be more collaborative.

It has backed this up with a number of actions, including the launch of new guidelines on working with healthcare organisations, as well as a call for greater academic partnership in UK drug development.

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which has an ongoing partnership with the ABPI, was positive about industry association's latest plans.

“In our ongoing work with the ABPI and ABHI [Association of British Healthcare Industries], I have witnessed first-hand how working as a team can deliver significant patient benefits above and beyond what can be delivered by any party in isolation. That is why I am firmly behind greater partnership working and I will be encouraging my colleagues to engage with this important work,” he said.

27th April 2012

From: Healthcare

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