If you read between the lines, that is what Ian Hudson, the UK’s Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is saying. In a statement released this week, he cites “I feel the time is right for a new person to guide the Agency and our work through its next phase, following the UK’s departure from the EU next year.” Hard to critique that rationale. He’s also not alone. A recent study from GlobalData shows that “59% of healthcare industry professionals in the UK indicated their sentiment on the impact of Brexit has become more negative over the past 3 months.” The Financial Times recently published some “startling” Brexit economic scenarios and Prime Minister Theresa May had to say very recently that it was not possible to hold a second Brexit referendum before Britain leaves the EU in March. Cheerio.
Health authorities in the UK are auditing some 3,000 foreign physicians’ credentials after a fraud case brought subpar vetting procedures to light. A practicing—but unqualified—consulting psychiatrist by the name of Zholia Alemi traveled to the UK in the nineties as part of a program that, according to the NYT, “helped physicians from some former British colonies … to secure licenses to practice in Britain with only limited examinations of their credentials.” She provided a fake Primary Medical Qualification with her application, and it seems like the limited examination worked in her favor. Ms. Alemi went on to practice psychiatry like anyone else with the proper credentials until last month when she tried to write herself into a dying patient’s will. Jeez. If you’re gonna fraud that extensively might as well go for broke.
Apparently, regulators in Britain don’t think the price of biosimilar products is low enough. According to a consultation, “the average price decline upon loss of exclusivity is significantly lower for biological medicines than for non-biological medicines, with a ~70% average drop in expenditure for non-biological medicines compared to a ~45% drop for biological medicines.” One of the issues here is using averages. According to Warwick Smith, of the British Biosimilars Association, “we have seen price reductions of more than 80% for some products” and “these proposed changes will significantly impact biosimilars and manufacturers may be unable to launch products as a consequence. This could also impact the potential patient benefits of these medicines and threaten Simon Stevens’ objective of £300 million of savings in the next three years.” Everyone, simmer down and remember no biosimilars, no cost savings – period.
Wait what? Yep, this refreshing portrait of self-awareness is brought to you by a recent survey of 1,000 adults across Britain. You might recall from a previous InsightCity article, the UK faces some serious shortfalls in providing for an aging population, not the least of which is a potential GP shortage. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Health Foundation published a report in which they outline these pressures. Back to the survey. The data show 77% support or strongly support an increase in UK spending on public healthcare by 4% a year over the next 15 years and 82% support a ~4% spending hike for social care. This translates into each UK household “contributing” around £2,000. We’re not sure that figure was disclosed to the survey respondents when they were indicating their “support” for the increase in spending, so there’s that.
PM Theresa May wants the UK to remain in the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit. She’s essentially arguing that allowing the UK to contribute will be beneficial due to the nation’s prestigious universities and its regulatory body which assesses more medicines than any EU member. Staying in would mean UK patients get faster access to newly approved EMA medicines. But being part of the agency would mean following its rules, paying dues, and possibly being subject to its legal authority via the European Court of Justice instead of national UK courts. That’s a big no-no for May and pro-Brexit factions in the UK, so they’re trying to avoid that part of the deal. British biopharma is behind May’s stance—they still want some cake from this Great British Break Off.
Longtime Insight City readers beware, we really can’t use our normal voice/style for this article. But don’t think we didn’t think about it. Earlier this week UK NHS Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched a plan to expand the country’s mental health treatment efforts. And not just any plan. The NHS has committed £1.3 billion to transform mental health services, with a pledge to: (1) treat an extra 1 million patients by 2020 by hiring ~21,000 more workers, (b) provide services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and (iii) integrate mental and physical health services for the first time. Yep, 1.3 billion pounds. That’s like 650,000 tons of money. You do the math. To get you up-to-speed, see the most prevalent mental illnesses in the UK here.
The NHS that’s who. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled plans to “fast track digital excellence” including a further round of digital excellence centres and “instant access” to a personal online health record. The NHS will select 12 “global exemplars” that could receive up to £10 million to support their pioneering efforts. The plan will also invest heavily in training healthcare workers on how to use digital technologies. One example: A library of NHS-approved health apps to guide patient choice. They will also be advising on other wearable devices, to ensure people can select reputable and effective products to monitor and improve their health. Brilliant.
The UK recently released the first set of data for Disclosure UK, which is akin to the Open Payments data in the US (A.K.A, the “Sunshine Act”). Just to recap, pharmaceutical manufacturers made $6.5B in payments to US physicians for general (i.e., non-research related) and research purposes in 2015. Figures released by The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry show drug companies disclosed payments to UK doctors and other health professionals totaling £340m (~$450M USD) in 2015. So what’s the difference? Well, compliance with the UK version is not mandatory. Seriously. Financial Times reports that “doctors receiving the largest share of the money are opting out.” Shocker. That said, we were surprised that 70% of doctors participated. Well done, indeed. Cheerio.