Managing Director, Accord UK
Peter Kelly, Managing Director of generic drugs supplier Accord UK, gives an insight into how the industry is adapting to changing needs of patients and the NHS.
Why are generic drugs so important in the UK?
Around three quarters of all medicines in the UK now are generic. The UK writes the most generic prescriptions across Europe and research shows the UK has the lowest generic prices across Europe when compared to five or six of the largest mature generic markets. The NHS would not be sustainable without generics for sure.
Can you put the cost savings into context?
According to the BGMA [British Generics Manufacturers Association], generic drugs save the UK £13 billion each year, but it’s easy to lose sight of what that means. If you imagine that that would pay for half a million nurses, it puts the savings into context.
How has COVID-19 changed perspectives toward generic drugs?
This year has created a real shift in terms of the perception and the understanding of the value of generics in the UK. Generic medicines have played a vital role in supporting patients during the pandemic. It was predominantly generic medicines that were used in intensive care settings.
How are generic drugs helping to improve patient outcomes?
When a particular product gets delivered for a lower cost then more patients can get access to a treatment that might have previously been difficult to access. Generic drugs also create headroom for more innovation. This means when companies bring future products to market, we won’t just produce a direct replica, we can make incremental innovations so it’s better either for health care professionals or patients.
How do we ensure supply chains can meet demand?
I think that resilience is going to be key in the future. When you just focus on price at the expense of supply chain resilience that’s when you can see shortages appearing in markets. We need a sustainable model where we look at the overall value for that medicine rather than just the price. We manufacture over half of our current volume in the UK and are keen to keep investing in, and supporting that from a UK resilience perspective.
What does the future of the generic drug industry look like in the UK?
I think some of the things we’ve seen in terms of closer collaboration between industry and government and regulators will be here to stay. We’ve shown we can be more flexible and act quicker and perhaps there’s some more we can do to continue to extract benefits.