SmartPeople: Erik Nordkamp
The managing director of Pfizer UK explains how he hopes to work with the government and NHS to advance healthcare in Britain
Pressure on both the NHS and the industry has increased tremendously over the last 15 years. Both have productivity challenges, which is why there needs to be a robust dialogue and strong relationship between pharmaceutical companies, government and the NHS to ensure an effective, efficient and sustainable healthcare system.
As well as ensuring a continued supply of our existing medicines to UK patients and developing the medicines of the future, I’m really focused on engaging external stakeholders with the NHS, government and patient representatives. My goal is that we work better together to improve the nation’s health.
We have a golden opportunity before us; for patients to get the very best medicines and vaccines, for the pharma industry to grow, and for Britain to cement its position as the global home of medical invention.
However, the fact is the true value of medicines is not being recognised. People diagnosed with certain forms of cancer and other rare conditions will not have access to treatments available today, let alone the innovative medicines of the future.
Through the Accelerated Access Review, we must focus on achieving a single, long-term and sustainable solution that ensures UK patients have access to the medicines they need, when they need them most.
With a seat at the table, alongside government officials, policy makers and NHS leaders, we can help to create a more sustainable model of care. But we need to work together to better adapt to this changing environment and we need to act fast.
There is so much more medicines can do to help patients, the NHS and our economy thrive. Medicines are among the most cost-effective NHS investments. They halt, slow or prevent illness and, in turn, prevent other potentially more costly expenditure such as hospitalisations or the need for more expensive procedures or surgery. And they help keep people in work, contributing to the health of our economy.
There’s great hope for what we can achieve in the future as well. The UK is home to some of the top scientists in the world that deserve to be part of a leading and thriving life science industry and we’re in a particularly strong period of invention right now. Let’s make sure we have an environment where both our research and development and our medical aspirations can be made reality.
Joining the industry
If you’re looking to join the industry, you must embrace change as an opportunity; be unafraid to challenge yourself and your colleagues; initiate fresh ideas; and learn from both your successes and your failures.
I also think you need to be passionate about developing medicines that make people better, prevent illness and save lives. It’s important that the external environment is at the centre of your thinking and that you always place patients at the heart of daily decisions.
In my first role at Pfizer I worked alongside a sales representative who inspired a particular work-ethic in those around her. She was above all pragmatic, central to which was the question, “If it doesn't benefit healthcare professionals and ultimately patients, then why do it?”. I always try to keep it in mind when faced with decisions of my own.
Unfortunately we are not seen in a positive light by society so we need to do a lot more in the public domain to make sure our complicated industry can demonstrate the good it is doing and the promise and value it brings. We need to be willing to have difficult discussions and do this with both policy makers and the public to earn the trust to partner in creating a sustainable life sciences industry and a stream of innovative medicines.