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Responding to NHS Change: Big Pharma needs to know more. Pharmaceutical Marketing September 2007

While the UK's Prime Minister Gordon Brown was putting the NHS firmly at the centre of the Labour Party conference held in Bournemouth this week, the pharmaceutical industry was brushing up on its knowledge of current changes in the NHS in the City of London.

The conference, entitled Responding to NHS Change, organised by Eye for Pharma, is a two-day meeting, covering topics ranging from How to Build Healthy Partnerships within the NHS to The Implications of Practice Based Commissioning (PBC).

Finding your way through change
Jason Bryant, director of the pharmaceutical business unit at Binley's, took the audience through the "uncertain waters" of the NHS. He stressed that poor intelligence could destroy relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

Bryant outlined how the healthcare industry and NHS shared similar goals and possible future directions to improve relationships:

* sharing the responsibility of being providers of healthcare
* building trust between the industry and the NHS
* make proposed changes happen
* play a leading role in helping the NHS reduce its costs
* offering to share skills
* people make health choices everyday; how to implement this in healthcare

Bryant also cited the example of the In-Control programme, a scheme which allows people in receipt of social care services to manage their own budgets and control their own interventions. A possible model, therefore, would be to allow patients to manage their own healthcare budgets, with support from doctors and other key workers.

Also, with the cost cutting exercises concentrating on switching from branded to generic drugs, how can the pharmaceutical industry persuade PCTs and the NHS as a whole to use the money saved to reinvest in branded drugs? From a pharmaceutical marketing angle, Bryant said that the industry needed to reconfigure and educate its sales forces to understand fully the local healthcare needs of PCTs. Education and communication were currently lacking in the relationships between the industry and the NHS, he warned.

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