HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 5 July 2016

Minister attempts to reassure science sector about life post-Brexit

4 July 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Ingrid Torjesen

 

Conservative MP Jo Johnson spoke at a special briefing on 30 June 2016 about the future of UK science following Brexit to reassure scientists that they would not be discriminated against with EU science projects while the UK remained a member of the EU. Johnson’s reassurances come amid reports of growing fears within the science industry that the EU referendum result will impact on the roles of British researchers in European science collaborations funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU’s flagship research funding programme.

 

Chemist and Druggist reports that there will be no impact assessment on the planned cuts to community pharmacy funding. The Department of Health later contested this news, explaining it always intended to publish one “in due course”.

 

Pharmacy Biz further details the APPG’s report following an inquiry into primary and community care which found a gulf between government and community pharmacy on their plans for the sector.

Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons Question, 4 July 2016, Drugs: Competition

 

Steve McCabe, MP: When he expects the Competition and Markets Authority to report on its investigation on suspected anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical sector.

 

Department of Health

George Freeman, MP: The Department is already referring cases to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). To strengthen our work in this area we are considering putting measures in place to routinely and systematically monitor significant price increases of generic medicines and take action where appropriate, including the possible referral of suspected excessive pricing to the CMA, while taking into account the potential impact of any such action on the availability of medicines.

The CMA is currently conducting a number of investigations into anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry. It imposed fines totalling £45 million in one case (currently subject to appeal at the Competition Appeal Tribunal), and expects to reach a final decision by late summer in another. It opened two more cases in March and April 2016 in which it expects to decide in late summer whether there are grounds to take each investigation further.

The CMA is also considering evidence of other potential cases of anti-competitive practices in the sector, and may well open further investigations in the coming months.

The CMA is independent of Ministers and we cannot interfere in either the substance or the procedures of its decision-making.

 

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House of Commons Question, 4 July 2016, Drugs: Prices

 

Keith Vaz, MP: What plans he has to bring forward proposals for a change to legislation to further regulate the pricing of everyday drugs to the NHS by pharmaceutical companies.

 

Department of Health

George Freeman, MP: The Department is already referring cases to the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) and to strengthen our work in this area. We are considering putting measures in place to routinely and systematically monitor significant price increases of generic medicines and take action where appropriate, including the possible referral of suspected excessive pricing to the CMA, while taking into account the potential impact of any such action on the availability of medicines.

 

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House of Commons Question, 4 July 2016, NHS: Drugs

 

Steve McCabe, MP: If he will bring forward regulations to prevent drug manufacturers excessively raising the cost of drugs to the NHS when they are the sole or dominant supplier.

 

Department of Health

George Freeman, MP: The Department is already referring cases to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). To strengthen our work in this area we are considering putting measures in place to routinely and systematically monitor significant price increases of generic medicines and take action where appropriate, including the possible referral of suspected excessive pricing to the CMA, while taking into account the potential impact of any such action on the availability of medicines.

The CMA is currently conducting a number of investigations into anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry. It imposed fines totalling £45 million in one case (currently subject to appeal at the Competition Appeal Tribunal), and expects to reach a final decision by late summer in another. It opened two more cases in March and April 2016 in which it expects to decide in late summer whether there are grounds to take each investigation further.

The CMA is also considering evidence of other potential cases of anti-competitive practices in the sector, and may well open further investigations in the coming months.

The CMA is independent of Ministers and we cannot interfere in either the substance or the procedures of its decision-making.

 

Full Coverage

Minister attempts to reassure science sector about life post-Brexit

4 July 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Ingrid Torjesen

 

The UK needs to improve at building business and innovating on the back of its own scientific discoveries, says Jo Johnson, Conservative Party MP and minister for universities and science.

 

Speaking at a special briefing on 30 June 2016 about the future of UK science following Brexit, Johnson, a Remain supporter who warned before the referendum that leaving the EU was not in the best interests of business, also reassured scientists that they would not be discriminated against with EU science projects while the UK remained a member of the EU.

 

Johnson’s reassurances come amid reports of growing fears within the science industry that the EU referendum result will impact on the roles of British researchers in European science collaborations funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU’s flagship research funding programme.

 

At the event, which was held in the London headquarters of the biomedical charity the Wellcome Trust, Johnson – brother of fellow Conservative MP and former London Mayor Boris Johnson – said that he had raised concerns about potential discrimination in pre-emptive talks with the EU science commissioner, Carlos Moedas, adding that he would act on any evidence of unfair treatment by bringing it to the commissioner’s attention.

 

British universities receive around £1bn from the EU each year, amounting to 10% of their total research funds.

 

Paul Nurse, Nobel prizewinner and director of the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre in London, told a press conference on 29 June 2016 that Brexit was the greatest threat to British science in living memory. “Science thrives on the permeability of ideas and people, and flourishes in environments that pool intelligence, minimises barriers and are open to free exchange and collaboration,” he said.

 

“For science to thrive it must have access to the single market, and we do need free movement.”

 

But when asked at the Wellcome Trust briefing if he could guarantee free movement of scientists, Johnson said: “I can’t commit to any particular definition of freedom of movement for you, but it is obviously going to be important that the UK remains open to the brightest and best from the EU and from around the world.

 

“We’re not going to stop brilliant people from coming to work in our universities and science institutes, there would be no purpose to that,” he added. “We are going to remain an open outward-looking confident country and science is going to be at the forefront of the next stage of our economic growth.”

 

Johnson also pointed out that other countries have been known to develop and market UK research after the UK has discovered it, therefore getting the economic benefits. “We know the stories – from the early days of computing to pioneering imaging techniques, such as medical ultrasound and CT scanning,” he said.

 

“Less than 10% of British innovation derives from our research base – that is a far lower proportion than many other OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries,” he added. In Switzerland, for example, over 20% of innovation comes directly from its research base.

 

“There is a considerable benefit from having a closer relationship between industry and academia and we see this throughout the country and this is something that we do need to encourage,” he said.

 

APPG WARN PSNC AND MINISTERS TO AVOID ‘ACRIMONIOUS CONTRACT IMPOSITION’

4 July 2016, Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis

 

The All-Party Pharmacy Group has attempted to ratchet up the pressure on the PSNC and the government to find common ground on community pharmacy’s role in the NHS and avoid “an acrimonious contract imposition.”

 

A report on the APPG’s inquiry into primary and community care, released as ministers and pharmacy leaders continue to fence over a range of controversial pharmacy efficiency measures, prompted APPG officials to warn the government that an imposed contract “would send unhelpful signals to the sector and risks hampering its development.”

 

“Our inquiry found that there is a gulf between government and community pharmacy on their plans for the sector. Both sides, ultimately, want better care for patients. That is best achieved by agreeing a common way forward, saving us from an acrimonious contract imposition,” said Sir Kevin Barron (pictured), chair of the APPG.

 

“Our report lays out some simple steps pharmacy can take towards achieving a vision of community pharmacy that I hope we all share. Pharmacies should invest in technology, professionalism and integration with the rest of primary care.

 

“Pharmacy can get on with many of these without a nod from the government, but we know as long as uncertainty hangs over the sector, we’ll see less investment in patient care. Only if both sides strike a deal can we avoid the dangerous distraction of contract imposition.”

 

Oliver Colvile, Vice-Chair of the APPG, said: “As the Department of Health prepares its response to the community pharmacy consultation, our report will put pressure on the pharmacy negotiators and their colleagues in government to stay around the negotiating table.

 

“The Group believes in a clinically-focused community pharmacy service. It seems obvious to us that such a service is built on clinical services in community pharmacies. Both sides should focus on developing the next generation of clinical services.”

 

The report can be found here http://goo.gl/O9o3SD

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