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Innovative research and a supply of leading scientists have generated a world-renowned biotech hub in the UK. This technological innovation has also contributed to a growing Health Technology Assessment (HTA) community worldwide. HTA groups provide help to health services around the world by analysing the evidence that underpins therapies and making recommendations on which products should be used. Biotech is not the only area of excellence in healthcare innovation in the UK. Agencies such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and its advisers are also at the forefront of the global HTA system. The most successful biotech companies have combined innovative science with a willingness to develop the evidence demanded by HTA groups to provide patients with accelerated access to effective, novel treatments.
As biotech companies and health services are acutely aware, the money that enables scientific innovation is not endless. Difficult decisions have to be made by healthservice managers to ensure that scarce resources for healthcare are spent on the technologies that are proven to be effective. Healthcare resourcing decisions are informed by five main pieces of evidence: Biotech companies rightly concentrate research effort on answering the first three of these questions; the questions asked by industry regulators. The most farsighted companies also address the final two questions; those asked by the HTA advisers to healthcare reimbursement agencies.
The demands for high-quality evidence from regulatory and reimbursement authorities are stringent. It is no coincidence that investors in biotech, be they pharmaceutical partners or venture capital fund managers, make similar demands. The ability to meet all these demands, through addressing all five questions, can make the difference between a successful deal and a missed opportunity ? the most sophisticated biotech companies have gained a competitive edge when entering investment or partnering discussions with robust answers to all five.
The UK biotech industry continues to thrive, not only because it attracts world-class scientists, but also because it has access to world-leading HTA experts. Putting a value on innovation is no longer simply desirable ? it is essential. The UK biotech industry is well-placed to make use of the wealth of UK HTA expertise to support its scientific innovation and to continue developing valuable therapies.
Paul is a co-founder of Heron Evidence Development Ltd (www.herongroup.co.uk). Heron has been working with biotech and pharmaceutical companies since 1999 to demonstrate the value of innovative products to the reimbursement community. Heron is situated near Cambridge, UK. If you are aspiring to a biotech deal, and would like to learn more about how HTA principles could add benefit, we will be pleased to hear from you.