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Driving Global Competitiveness of the UK's Life Sciences Ecosystem

Pfizer / PwC Strategy&
Pfizer UK

31st July 2017

We commissioned PwC Strategy& to analyse the factors that make a country globally competitive in life sciences. This was to inform our response to the Government's Industrial Strategy in 2017, as the UK looked to strengthen its life science sector and prepared to leave the EU.


This report aimed to provide a useful basis for further discussions on how a successful life sciences sector can continue to drive UK innovation, health and economic benefit, into the future.

The UK has a strong academic base, leading edge scientific institutes, an active investment market and the NHS. This creates a vibrant pharmaceutical sector, with high productivity, jobs and economic value (£9.6bn in direct Gross Value Added (GVA) and 71,000 in direct employment).

The report found much to celebrate and build on as areas of strength, where the UK is already globally competitive, as well as opportunities to invest for the benefit of NHS patients, the economy and jobs. 


Driving-Global-Competitiveness-of-the-UKs-Life-Sciences-Ecosystem.pdf (4 MB)


Key Findings in 2017

  1. This report suggests that workforce & skills, academic & leading edge science and access to medicine are the three most important factors in achieving the UK's ambition for a thriving and globally competitive life science sector.
  2. Life sciences experts interviewed for the report, ranked the UK as already globally competitive in academic and leading edge science and workforce & skills, in-line with other leading countries in fiscal incentives and clinical trials infrastructure, but lagging behind in access to medicines.
  3. Analysis shows that UK patients are prescribed approximately 75% less new medicines* in their first year of launch than their counterparts in France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the US. It then takes on average almost two years to catch up with the next lowest uptake country.1
  4. If the UK reduces this 'access gap' not only would patients benefit, but access to the latest medicines could better support growth in life sciences, benefiting UK patients and society. This could add as much as £705m a year to the economy and 4,000 more high value life sciences jobs in the UK.1


Access Gap

The pharmaceutical industry is united in its aim of working with Government and the NHS to deliver for all of the UK. We want to use our experience, expertise and resource to:

  • Help the NHS to meet growing pressures through collaborating on projects which improve patient care and experience.
  • Give UK patients access to the very latest treatments by closing the 'access gap', whilst ensuring a stable and sustainable medicines bill.
  • Deliver the jobs, skills and investment that will see the UK secure its place as one of the world’s foremost life sciences hubs.


*New medicines are defined as patent protected drugs launched from 2011-16. The percentage given applies to all products that fit this category that had at least 1 year of sales data across at least four benchmark countries to allow for access comparisons to be made. Access is measured by volume of drugs in standard units and this is adjusted per million population for each country.



  1. PwC Strategy; Driving Global Competitiveness of the UK’s Life Sciences Ecosystem. For the benefit of UK patients, the economy and the NHS. Feb 2017.


PP-PFE-GBR-1762 / May 2019