Merck and NHS England Unveil New MS Collaboration in London

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Belén Garijo, global CEO of Merck Healthcare, speaking this month at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference, ‘Thriving Amid Uncertainty’, in London, underlined the significance of Merck’s new deal with NHS England for its innovative new multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment, Mavenclad and how this deal stands as a new model of inter-stakeholder collaboration in the health economy of the future.

“This is clearly a revolution in care for chronically ill patients as well as good for the healthcare system”

Belén Garijo, Merck

The commercial access deal for Mavenclad is an outcomes-based deal for patients with highly active relapsing remitting MS, one of several such agreements NHS England has entered recently on innovative and expensive new drugs. As MS as a condition is costing the UK economy between £3.3bn and £4.2bn each year, alleviating pressure on an overstretched NHS was crucial. As Garijo explained, “one of the reasons that the NHS was very open and receptive to the proposal that we made was that it was outcome-driven. The treatment will offer long-term disease control with only 20 days of therapy. This is clearly a revolution in care for chronically ill patients as well as good for the healthcare system.” Garijo continued, “We have worked closely with NHS to find a solution that provides timely access to vital therapy and at the same time brings more value for money to the NHS at a time of very significant financial pressure.”

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, posited that “These innovative deals are concrete examples of how NHS England is now successfully working with the life sciences industry to make treatments available for patients while securing fair value for taxpayers,” while, Elisabeth Prchla, Merck UK general manager highlighted the ground-breaking nature of the deal and how it can serve as “a benchmark for the future, bringing together the NHS, government and industry to achieve faster access for patients.”

“[The deal is] a benchmark for the future, bringing together the NHS, government and industry to achieve faster access for patients”

Elisabeth Prchla, Merck UK

Garijo was eager to highlight that the aging and wealthier global population represents a paradigm shift for the healthcare industry and will therefore require new and innovative treatment models and pathways. She proclaimed that “We live in a society that is aging rapidly and in which we need highly innovative approaches to deal with unmet medical needs.” For Garijo, “New technology, in particular digital technology, is already creating the possibilities for entirely new models of care.” Collaboration with companies at the forefront of these trends is already vital for Merck, as Garrido noted: “The real value is in collaborating with smaller businesses to embrace new technology in which we have no expertise. We need to work together to get the best output and the most efficiency… Advanced analytics, better mining of Big Data, and new development pathways are some examples of the new tools that we have at our disposal.”

“In that process of developing and further innovating in healthcare, the boundaries between our industries will look very different and new collaborations will come to the fore.”

Belén Garijo, Merck

Looking to the future, Garijo cautioned that “We in the pharma industry and indeed all healthcare system stakeholders have a very full book of work for the next decade and beyond.” The tone overall was optimistic though, concluding “I am sure that in that process of developing and further innovating in healthcare, the boundaries between our industries will look very different and new collaborations will come to the fore. At the end of the day, more patients will live longer and healthier lives.”

Writer: Patrick Burton

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