AT A GLANCE: Pharma and govt move means PA opportunities

What’s going on?
The Department of Health and ABPI last week launched what both bodies call a ‘long-term leadership strategy in medicines’. It is aimed at improving relations between the NHS and industry to support the better use of cost-effective medicines.

Sounds like Christmas come early for public affairs specialists?
Yes, a closer relationship would seem to present an open door for PA spec­ialists in the pharma indus­try. Senior executives from companies including AstraZeneca, Pfizer and GlaxoSmith­Kline have been involved in discussing the strat­egy with health officials – although there’s no sugges­tion of government cosying up to Big Pharma.

So what measures are being taken?
The ABPI says the launch is about ensuring that the pharma industry and government ‘are on the same page’. In other words, it’s a statement of prin­ciples about working more closely together, but the ABPI says it is supporting the launch with a communications programme over the next few months.

Where will its efforts be targeted?
At health service manager level rather than on individual doctors or other prescribers at this stage. The ABPI’s core message will be that new ways need to be found of assessing medicines’ place in budgets.

Isn’t that called wanting to have their cake and eat it, too?
Both parties say this is a ‘new, collab­or­ative approach to recognise the value of medicines in terms of their ability to prevent critical health events’. The ABPI will emphasise the need for transparency and trust between pharma companies and the NHS.

Any examples of this new togetherness?
The ABPI and DoH cite a collab­oration between East Lincolnshire PCT and GlaxoSmithKline, Boeh­rin­ger Ingelheim and Pfizer on a lung disease programme that led to a 23 per cent fall in admission rates. So expect to see more examples in the media of the pharma industry positioned as actively helping NHS patients.

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