Fourth Assembly Committee Legacy

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Joanne Ferris

Are you responding as an individual or on behalf of an organisation?


Organisation (and role if applicable):

Operations Manager – Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Cymru Wales

Question 1

Thinking about the past five years, in your view:


-     to what extent has the Health and Social Care Committee had an impact on health and social care in Wales?

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-     what has been the Committee’s biggest achievement?

No comment


-     if the Committee could have done one thing differently, what would it be, and why?

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-     has the Committee’s work struck the right balance between scrutiny of policy, finances and legislation?

No comment

Question 2

Looking ahead to the next five years, in your view what will be the three biggest challenges for health and social care in Wales?

1. One of the greatest challenges the NHS in Wales still faces is addressing the low level of patient access to innovative medicines. The current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) means that the biopharmaceutical industry has committed to keep NHS spending on branded medicines flat for two years and with under 2% growth for a further three years up to 2019.

The financial returns to Welsh Government from this new scheme are considerable, estimated at approximately £200 million over the life of the Scheme (2014-2019).

This challenge could be addressed through;

·         Creating a new funding mechanism, utilising part of the additional resource from PPRS, to enable equitable and consistent patient access to the latest medicines, no matter the disease area,

·         Ensuring that the processes of the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) are appropriate, timely and transparent, supporting patients’ consistent access to the latest clinically and cost-effective medicines, and

·         Closely monitoring the implementation of NICE and AWMSG guidance across all Health Boards and Trusts in Wales, embedding accountability for delivering patients’ rights to access these new medicines, on the advice of their clinician, by running a public awareness campaign on the way in which medicines are accessible throughout Wales

The adoption of innovative treatments will need to be addressed over the term of the next Assembly, if NHS Wales wants to improve patient outcomes. 


2. The development of stratified medicines (also sometimes called “personalised” or “precision” medicines) aims to enable healthcare professionals to provide the right treatment, to the right person, at the right time and adheres to the principles of Prudent Healthcare.

These medicines move beyond the era of mass, or blockbuster, usage to tailored treatments that better reflect an individual’s specific set of circumstances. Whilst the pharmaceutical industry is gearing up for this new era, other sectors in the healthcare landscape face significant challenges to their traditional ways of operating. If the undoubted benefits to patients are to be realised, all stakeholders will need to play their part.

Stratified medicines represent a “disruptive technology”, but one which stands to benefit all parties, especially patients over the next 5-10 years. Given its widespread ramifications, progress will only be made by all parties working together constructively and flexibly. NHS Wales and the Welsh Government will need to address the opportunities that these new medicines provide to patients health in Wales, whilst balancing the additional resources that may be required to introduce them.


3. The danger of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is being increasingly recognised by Governments and wider policy makers. In addition to the human costs, there is a substantial economic cost from AMR. Globally, it is estimated that in ten years AMR will cost $625 billion, reducing global GDP by 0.6%. However, the current scientific, regulatory and financial obstacles serve as a disincentive for pharmaceutical companies from developing new antibiotics.

Wales will need to consider how to address the wide-scale ramifications that protecting the wellbeing of its citizens may have in a world where the current antibiotic arsenal is becoming less effective.