Building our economic recovery around life sciences

In just under a month, Scottish voters will go to the polls to elect the next Scottish govermment and regardless of who is returned to St Andrews House they will find an in-tray packed with problems to solve.

Covid-19 has dominated the last 12 months, with regional lockdowns and rolling restrictions taking a huge toll on the nation’s collective health and wealth.

Getting Scotland back to work, children back to school, and the NHS back to normal will require clear thinking and a joined-up approach from government.

During the crisis, the pharmaceutical industry has worked hard to support the NHS. Our members have prioritised the supply of critical medicines whilst devoting time and resources to discovering the latest Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. The ability to develop and deploy cutting- edge vaccines so efficiently will go down as one of our greatest scientific achievements.

Unfortunately, the fight isn’t over, and the next stage of the pandemic will turn to how
we rebuild our economy and healthcare system.

Recent research revealed that the pharmaceutical industry supports over 15,000 jobs in Scotland. This success isn’t built on low-paid employment, but instead, on high-quality jobs that extend to every corner of the country. Most of these jobs can be found in traditionally deprived communities and rural areas, with the industry contributing positively to the Scottish Government’s inclusive growth agenda.

However, despite this success, we can’t rest on our laurels. Countries across the globe are clamouring for pharmaceutical investment and if Scotland wants to stay ahead of the pack, we must be bold and ambitious.

Ahead of the election in May, ABPI Scotland believes that the next government should build our economic recovery around life sciences and empower the sector to grow through increased collaboration and the speedy return of clinical trials.

Beyond the economy, it is vital that the NHS is able to tackle the current treatment backlog and we believe that the faster adoption of innovative medicine can help improve care and reduce strain on clinicians.

And finally, linking all of this together, is data. During the pandemic, data and digital solutions have provided vital lessons for the NHS. In helping facilitate research, plan treatments, and beam consultations into patient homes, digital solutions have been at the heart of NHS thinking. For industry, improved use of large data sets will transform research and development and patient access to medicine and must be a priority going forward.

A thriving life sciences sector has the potential to cure all ills and these actions, when taken together, provide the blueprint for Scotland to transform its health and wealth.
We hope the next government agrees.