If the folks at Vertex are rolling their eyes at a new social media campaign from Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry , it would certainly be understandable.
The ABPI has rolled out a campaign on Twitter and LinkedIn called “Valuing Medicines,” which includes videos and graphics that seek to explain how the country’s National Health Service (NHS) adopts new drugs.
That process, of course, involves negotiating prices with pharma companies—a process that has been particularly painful of late for Vertex, which has been unable to come to terms with the NHS on its cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.
The ABPI’s new campaign argues that the NHS has “robust measures” in place for ensuring it’s getting enough value out of the medicines it’s covering. The cornerstone of that strategy is a “voluntary scheme” on new medicines that’s reviewed and revised every five years.
That includes a spending cap on drugs. If the country’s spend on new drugs exceeds that cap, the industry has to refund the difference to the NHS.
A new voluntary scheme that started this year “includes more measures than ever before to ensure that patients in this country can get access to new treatments as quickly as possible,” said Richard Torbett, executive director of commercial policy at the ABPI, in a video the organization recently tweeted (see below). “The agreement also includes measures specifically targeted to England to ensure we’ve got better ways for pharmaceutical companies to work with the system on individual products.”
But the timing of the new campaign seems a bit odd, considering the NHS’ ongoing battle with Vertex—a debate that the ABPI has been weighing in on while it simultaneously makes a case for Britain’s tough approach to greenlighting new drugs.
Orkambi was approved in Europe in 2015, but the NHS and Vertex remain embroiled in a pricing battle that has kept the product out of reach in Britain. The deadlock has dragged on for so long that in March, Vertex was forced to destroy almost 8,000 expired Orkambi packs.
A petition demanding that the NHS cover Orkambi passed 100,000 signatures recently, triggering a debate in Parliament. During the hearing, Vertex CEO Jeffrey Leiden said British health officials had walked away from pricing negotiations last year. Leiden met personally with British health minister Matt Hancock in hopes of reviving the negotiations.
Even though Vertex is not a member of the ABPI, Torbett has quite vocal about the company’s ongoing standoff with the NHS. On June 5, he said the “stalemate has been going on for too long” in a blog post.
He went on to explain that the value of new medicines in England is determined by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). “We don’t always agree with the approach taken by NICE to assess the value of medicines,” Torbett wrote. “We believe that its methods need to evolve over time as new technologies present new challenges.”
Torbett added that ABPI plans to submit ideas to NICE “to address some of the challenges for treatment for rarer conditions.” He noted that the NHS had offered to cover Orkambi for a period of two years, during which it would collect data on its performance, which would allow “the price to go up or down later depending on the evidence collected.”
Such a plan “represents exactly the sort of flexibility industry has been calling for some time,” Torbett wrote.
Meanwhile, the ABPI continues to advertise the merits of England’s tough approach to valuing medicines. Its tweets this week have included a graph showing that cancer survival rates have doubled in the U.K. in the last 40 years thanks to new medicines, and that the drugs have contributed to an extra 10 years of life expectancy there since the 1960s.
But earlier this week, the ABPI posted a tweet acknowledging that Britain’s process for valuing new drugs is far from perfect. The graphic shows that the U.K.’s access to new medicines is so slow that it takes the region five years to catch up to Germany and France. “We want to change this” the tweet reads.
如果福泰（Vertex）公司的员工正在关注英国制药行业协会( Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry )发起的一场新的社交媒体活动，那肯定是可以理解的。
ABPI 在 Twitter 和 LinkedIn 上推出了一项名为“估价药品”的活动，其中包括视频和图片，旨在解释美国国家卫生服务（ NHS ）如何采用新药。
当然，这一过程涉及到与制药公司谈判价格——对于福泰（Vertex）来说，这一过程最近尤为痛苦，它一直无法与 NHS 就其囊性纤维化药物 Orkabbi 达成协议。
ABPI 的新活动认为， NHS 已经制定了“有力的措施”，以确保从它覆盖的药物中获得足够的价值。这一战略的基石是针对每五年审查和修订一次的新药的“自愿计划”。
这包括对药品的支出上限。如果该国在新药上的支出超过上限，该行业必须将差额退还给 NHS 。
ABPI 商业政策执行董事理查德•托尔贝特( Richard Torbett )在该组织最近发布的一段视频中表示，今年启动的一项新的自愿计划“包括比以往任何时候都更多的措施，以确保这个国家的患者能够尽快获得新的治疗。”“该协议还包括专门针对英国的措施，以确保制药公司有更好的方式与该系统合作开发个别产品。”
但考虑到 NHS 与福泰（Vertex）的持续竞争，这场新运动的时机似乎有点奇怪——这场辩论是 ABPI 一直在权衡的，同时也为英国在绿灯新药方面的强硬做法提供了理由。
Orkabi 于2015年在欧洲获得批准，但 NHS 和福泰（Vertex）仍卷入一场价格战，使该产品在英国无法销售。死锁已经拖了很长一段时间，以至于在三月，福泰（Vertex）被迫销毁了将近8,000个过期的 Orkabi 包。
一份要求 NHS 覆盖奥坎比的请愿书最近通过了10万个签名，引发了议会的辩论。在听证会上，福泰（Vertex）首席执行官杰弗里•莱登( Jeffrey Leiden )表示，英国卫生官员去年放弃了价格谈判。莱顿亲自会见了英国卫生部长马特汉考克，希望恢复谈判。
尽管福泰（Vertex）不是 ABPI 的成员，但 Torbett 对该公司目前与 NHS 的对峙还是相当直言不讳。6月5日，他在一篇博客文章中表示，“僵局已经持续了太久”。
他接着解释说，英国新药的价值是由国家卫生和医疗卓越研究所（ NICE ）决定的。“我们不总是同意 NICE 评估药物价值的方法，” Torbett 写道。“我们认为，随着新技术带来新的挑战，其方法需要不断发展。”
Torbett 补充说， ABPI 计划向 NICE 提交想法，“以解决一些治疗罕见疾病的挑战。”他指出， NHS 已提出在两年内覆盖奥坎比，在此期间，它将收集有关其表现的数据，这将允许“价格上涨或下跌后，根据收集的证据。”
与此同时， ABPI 继续宣传英国严格评估药品价值的方法的优点。该公司本周发布的推文中有一张图表显示，由于新药物的出现，英国癌症存活率在过去40年里翻了一番，自上世纪60年代以来，这些药物使英国的预期寿命延长了10年。